by Dan Rafter
Young adults from the ages of 19 to 35 are looking for the urban lifestyle. And this trend is especially strong in the Cincinnati area, according to the new report Changing Demographics Encourages Urban Development by CBRE.
The CBRE report says that a growing number of young professionals with bachelor’s degree or higher are moving in and around Cincinnati’s urban core. What’s bringing them here? The report says that high gas prices, long commutes from the suburbs, traffic congestion and student debt have all contributed to make the traditional American Dream of living an automobile-focused lifestyle and owning a large house in the suburbs an unappealing option for younger adults.
“Once they graduate college, young adults can’t necessarily afford a house in the suburbs or a new car,” said Demetri Sampanis, research coordinator at CBRE’s Cincinnati office and author of the report, in a written statement. “They are waiting to have kids until their early to mid-30s because they don’t want to add to their current debt. Instead, they are looking for connectivity, walkability and mass-transit options. That is why we are seeing so many young people moving from the suburbs to downtown.”
The numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau back this up. According to the bureau, during the last 15 years, the population in downtown Cincinnati — an area that includes the CBD, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton areas — has increased by 150 percent. In the last decade, median household income for residents in the Cincinnati CBD has steadily increased, while the number of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher has jumped 123 percent.
“Demand for urban living creates momentum that builds upon itself,” said Dave Lockard, senior vice president at CBRE’s Cincinnati office. “More residents creates the need for more services and attractions.”
This is a particularly good time to move to downtown Cincinnati. As CBRE reports, during the past three years, several corporate tenants have relocated to the downtown area. This includes dunnhumbyUSA’s 280,000-square-foot headquarters in the middle of downtown Cincinnati and General Electric’s future 340,000-square-foot office building at the Banks. More than 40 new retail establishments have opened in the center of Cincinnati since 2013.
Then there’s the promise of the Cincinnati Streetcar, a $133 million project that will connect the Over-the-Rhine, CBD and The Banks neighborhoods with a 3.6-mile loop. This major transit project is currently under development and is scheduled for completion in 2016. Earlier this year, the Red Bike bike-sharing program debuted, and boasts 30 stations with more than 200 bikes.
“This is more than a short-term fad,” Sampanis said. “The next generation is speaking out, and Cincinnati is listening, adapting and moving forward.”