Long Live the Suburbs

According to a new ULI report, the suburbs are far from dead – they’re just different.

The American suburb is getting a reboot.

Though millennials tend to start families later than their parents’ generation, many of them will ultimately move to the suburbs, according to a new Urban Land Institute report.

They will not, however, move to the suburbs of their parents’ generation. Instead, the ULI report says, the suburbs will look like “diet urban” centers: “The critical descriptors seem to be suburbs that are close-in, transit-oriented, and mixed-use.”

We completely agree.

Southern Land Company has been building suburban centers with urban benefits for about a decade. In 2014, we finished a beautiful revitalization of Historic Downtown Plano, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. We worked in partnership with the City of Plano to provide Junction 15, a 279-apartment community complete with great retail options on the ground floor, nearby green spaces and – very important for young consumers – proximity to public transit.

Unlike the suburbs of old, new suburban centers will enable residents other commuting options besides their cars. In fact, millennials prefer walking over driving by 12%, according to a 2015 National Association of Realtors study cited in the ULI report.

Of course, the vibrancy of these “diet urban” centers depends on the job market in the urban core, or even, increasingly, in the amount of jobs available in the suburbs. “It would be a mistake to paint that trend with too broad a brush,” the ULI report says. “But the suburbs may adopt Mark Twain’s legendary comment that reports of his death were ‘greatly exaggerated.’”