The report stated that, “no longer is it accepted that only the great coastal cites can be alive around the clock and on weekends.” Instead, it went on to say, “downtown transformations have combined the key ingredients of housing, retail, dining, and walk-to-work offices to regenerate urban cores, spurring investment and development and raising the quality of life for a roster of cites.”
The driving force behind this trend? Millennials.
Millennials, people born between the early eighties and late nineties, are being cited as the major drive behind the growing urbanization trend. 80 million-members strong, this group is entering the market for housing and jobs and they are opting for the convenience of urban-style live-work-play environments in an effort to reduce time and expense on commuting and transportation.
But what does this mean for Huntsville?
Huntsville, as a major innovation market, where millennials are becoming highly sought after by leading tech firms for their cutting-edge skills, is quickly responding to this growing trend by engineering the type of, live-work-play communities that will entice and retain these talented individuals.
Organizations such as Downtown Huntsville Inc. have formed to help foster the revitalization of the urban downtown Huntsville area by creating a vibrant thriving community of individuals deeply rooted in the history and heritage of their city and invested in it’s future.
The city itself has taken great strides as well in helping to structure an environment to encourage urban growth by offering incentives and rezoning districts to make them more attractive to investors.
And developers are taking notice.
“Increasing numbers of people are desiring to live downtown, due to the vibrant atmosphere, walkability, convenience, and quality of life,” commented developer Charlie Sealy III in an interview with Business Alabama. Sealy, the man behind Belk-Hudson Lofts, led the charge on the Urbanization trend in 2012 and is continuing it with his newest upcoming addition to downtown, The Avenue.
With 21,000 square feet of retail space and 193 residential units for rent, The Avenue will be a game-changing mixed-use development for downtown Huntsville. “I wanted to undertake another development downtown because I believe in the continued growth and popularity of downtown.” Sealy later went on to state, “I believe Huntsville will grow in population and economic activity in the near future, and the appeal for urban living, shopping, dining and gathering will increase, as it is in other leading cities.”
Crunkleton & Associates is excited to have been contracted to perform the leasing for all of the retail space for the upcoming development. “We have seen a dramatic increase in capital being invested into downtown with no real end in sight,” said Wesley Crunkleton, Qualifying Broker of Crunkleton & Associates. “Most of this investment has been or will be in mixed-use projects that include a residential and retail component. With this, we have continued to see an increase in retailers and restaurants wanting to be downtown. While urban living seems to be leading the charge I expect to see more hotel and office development to follow.”
With their eye on innovation, desire to capture the talent of incoming millennials, and their willingness to listen to an ever changing marketplace, Huntsville has positioned itself perfectly to take full advantage of an urbanization trend that has proven it’s not about to fade any time soon.