Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is a Millennial migration possible in St Pete?

Will Generation Z follow in the Millennial's footsteps and embrace the old urban core?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog

 As the Millennials get older, some new trends in their behavior are emerging. One interesting switch is the beginning of a decline in craft beer consumption.

Fifty-eight percent of craft beer drinkers are under the age of 35, putting them in the Millennial generation. Here are some links for consideration.

There are also changes in Home-buying patterns. From the National Association of Realtors, NAR Generational Survey: Millennials Increasingly Buying in Suburban Areas.

The share of Millennials buying in an urban or central city area decreased to 17 percent (21 percent a year ago) in this year’s survey, and fewer of them (10 percent) purchased a multifamily home compared to a year ago (15 percent).Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says while Millennials may choose to live in an urban area as renters, the survey reveals that most aren’t staying once they’re ready to buy.

Check out Smart Asset: Where Are Millennials Buying Homes? – 2017 Edition for more details.

The issue for St. Petersburg is essentially this: The “downtown St. Pete renaissance” grew up with the Millennials and now that they are grown up (median age is in the 30s) will they like their forerunners the baby boomers' bolt for the suburbs?

It looks like the answer is yes.

According to Forbes (2015), the generation after Millennials is Generation Z, which they defined as people born from the mid1990s to the early 2000s, made up 25% of the U.S. population, making them a larger cohort than the Baby Boomers or Millennials.

So, will the next group follow in the Millennials footsteps and embrace the old urban core?

More importantly for St. Pete will Generation Z want craft beer, loud bars, sleazy looking out door cafes, gum laden sidewalks and dying landscaping that is represented in downtown St. Pete, or will they be looking for the newer, slicker more articulately planned and designed core like the Jeff Vinik development in downtown Tampa?

The Kriseman administration continues to emphasize the “precious Millennials” but the facts would tell us they are getting older and moving on and so should St. Pete.

Over four decades ago St. Pete woke up to find its downtown dead. It took a number of years for that to happen, but in today’s world, the Millennial migration could end up like more of an instant rapture.

It would only take one or two of the downtown “high tech” businesses deciding to head across the Bay to start a stampede.

One only has to look up at night in downtown St. Pete at all those dark windows in the tall buildings and in the not so tall ones to see that the seeds of disaster are already sown.

City Council and the Kriseman administration need to begin now working on a plan for Generation Z and the soon to be retiring first wave millennials.

Too early you say. We have time let’s leave that to the next mayor. That’s probably what they were saying in the mid 70s right before the bottom dropped out.

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Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate

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