“The Times, they are a’ changin’…”
With the widespread use of the automobile, from the 1920s to present day, the suburbanization of the nation’s population was a staple of American life. But for the first time in the last 90 years, the major cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas have grown faster than their combined suburbs. It is clear that there has been a major shift in the growth occurring in and around these major metropolitan areas toward the urban centers in recent years.
Urban city centers offer people places to work, play, live, shop, eat, drink, convene, rest, and experience culture. The most successful of these city centers are diverse, connected public places that offer rail transit – they encourage social interaction, communication between its residents, innovation, and economic activity. While Phoenix is younger than many of the country’s major cities, it has all of these necessary elements to be one of the most successful city centers, as the City itself, its people and companies keep investing in its healthy growth. By designing the urban landscape in such a way that encourages pedestrian activity, social, economic and land use diversity, connecting uses and functions, providing opportunities for interaction between residents, and offering access to life’s everyday needs, Phoenix is moving quickly toward becoming an example of one of these successful, more vibrant urban city centers.
Successful city centers attract young, educated members of Generation Y and Millennials, and Empty Nesters, as well as the economic activity they support. These are exactly the people moving to central Phoenix. The metropolitan Phoenix area is one of the nation’s fastest growing regions – it is experiencing a sharp increase in both younger, more educated Millennials and Generation Y members, as well as prosperous Empty Nesters relocating to the local urban, city cores. These people value health and financial well-being, and they prefer to be immersed in vibrant, urban neighborhoods where they can shop, exercise, socialize and relax close to home. Many of these people are downsizing from larger suburban homes into more manageable home sizes, and they prefer the community connection that is afforded them in a more urban environment.
City center’s largest employers are often anchor institutions, such as medical centers, universities, and major government offices or facilities, most all of which are the case here in Phoenix. The City of Phoenix government offices are in the heart of Downtown, as well as Arizona State University’s and University of Arizona’s Downtown Phoenix Campuses, both of which have had a huge impact on the transformation and growth in Downtown Phoenix. As a result, young, growing companies are being attracted to the area – they want to be in a live/work/play environment that attracts young talent. Talent concentrates in city centers, and nothing attracts talented people like other smart people. The revival of the urban core is in part, largely driven by the needs and demands of talent. With talent being more concentrated in urban centers, and the concentration of this talent amplifies innovation, entrepreneurism, and economic growth. This spurs city and economic growth. It’s easy to see why Arizona was recently ranked the top state for entrepreneurs.
With the state’s business-friendly government policies, the lower cost of living, and an average of 330 sunny days per year, it’s no question why Phoenix is experiencing such a rapid rate of growth. Central Phoenix specifically is in the early stages of these changes. If there were ever a time to buy in the urban core, it would be now. Economists are forecasting robust population growth for Phoenix in the near future, so get in while the city is still young!
Written by Anne Healy, Realtor, Phoenix Urban Spaces, 732-500-6785