Whether it’s the job opportunities, the cultural scene or the convenience of having amenities on your doorstep, urban living is becoming an increasingly popular option.
As more people in the U.S. follow the country-to-city shift, it’s reshaping and refreshing the urban environment in a number of American cities – and in many cases changing previously rundown areas for the better.
Scott Homa, JLL’s Director of U.S. Office Research, says: “In the U.S., the urban population shift is helping revitalize and reinvent formerly dilapidated outskirts of many cities. The fringe locations of these former ‘ghost towns’ are actually an asset, offering a wider range of uses than the 9-to-5 coffee shops and office buildings often found in many city centers.
“What’s most interesting is that this trend is happening in markets from coast to coast, not just in major cities.”
Here are just some of the cities across the U.S. where living on the fringe is no longer a bad thing.
Fulton Market was once largely populated by light industrial and distribution facilities operated by mom-and-pop food and beverage retailers. Today, high profile developments have transformed the neighborhood. The Chicago Transit Authority reopened the Market’s Morgan “L” stop after a 60-year hiatus, spurring a restaurant boom around the station. SohoHouse, a 1900s-era rubber seal manufacturing facility, has been redesigned as a boutique hotel and members club. In January 2016, Sterling Bay opened 1K Fulton, a converted cold storage facility which houses Google’s new regional headquarters. Now, more revitalization projects are underway: Fulton West, the Ace Hotel, and Randolph West, where McDonald’s new global headquarters is headed, will open over the next 24 months.
The city’s South End district is a former industrial district that has embraced the live-work-play trend and today offers restaurants, arts, and culture for residents and employees. Two creative office projects, 300 W. Summit and 2100 S. Tryon, are expected to break ground in the next 18 months adding another 147,000 square feet to an office market with a vacancy rate of just 3.6 percent. Other notable projects include Lennar’s redevelopment of the old Pepsi bottling plant into residential and office, as well as Marsh Properties’ and Aston Properties’ redevelopment of the Sedgefield Shopping center along South Boulevard.
Cleveland’s Warehouse District has undergone major transformation before. At the end of the 19th century, it was the epicenter of the U.S. garment industry but a century later it became the confluence of musicians, artists, and urban pioneers—most of whom congregated in historic buildings like The Bradley. Now, spurred by a state tax credit program to fund restoration and preservation of the ornate architecture, developers are moving in to replicate successes like the Western Reserve Building which underwent renovations to accommodate a new office wing. The Swetland is one of the most renowned of the historic buildings; in 2014 it was restored and converted into apartments, office space, a rooftop restaurant and a specialty grocery.
Urban revival, special tax districts, and a thriving arts community have breathed new life into Denver’s River North Arts District (RiNo). A 19th century iron foundry is now a 25,000+ square foot specialty food market known as The Source. Nearby, a 100-room boutique hotel is slated to open in early 2017 and at least one upscale residential community will break ground in the next few months. Another addition to the district is the Denver Central Market, which opened last September as the premier showcase for Denver’s evolving culinary scene. And a new office complex named The Hub hopes to attract even more creative businesses to the area.
One of the most unique fringe markets in the U.S., the industrial zone just outside of downtown Los Angeles mixes large numbers of industrial properties with a new focus on office and multifamily development. The demographics in the area are equally diverse. Today there are not only artists living in lofts, but downtown professionals and Millennials taking residence in redevelopments like Berkshire Communities’ One Santa Fe. High-end boutiques and trendy restaurants sit alongside independent coffee shops. Office tenants are on their way. Warner Music Group is blazing the trail for LA’s entertainment tenants and will move from Burbank to occupy Shorenstein Properties’ redeveloped Ford Factory.
Miami is home to an emerging chain of micromarkets spanning from the southeast corner of Buena Vista to Wynwood in the south are gathering commercial momentum. In Wynwood, graffiti art and food trucks merge with cool, converted industrial spaces housing tech and other non-traditional firms. Luxury retail boutiques and gallery showrooms line the streets in the aptly-named Design District. In Midtown, mixed-use and retail developments foster a live-work-play environment. Planned office projects set to deliver in 2018 - such as RedSkyCapital’s CUBE Wynwood, the area’s first office tower –could help the area’s supply meet heightened demand.
Starting off as an industrial area, the North Loop became a key part of the city’s art scene before evolving into the city’s live-work-play hotspot. Further strengthened by the Warehouse District, employees and residents have flocked to the area, which has seen major redevelopments over the past five years. The most significant is Hines’ T3, an all-wood office. Several other completed redevelopments, including Butler Square, Colonial Warehouse, TractorWorks, Ford Center, and the Internet Exchange have attracted techies and creative tenants. The wider area now offers one of the greatest densities of tech talent in the Midwest, feeding nearly 100 tech companies in the city.
Historic has become hip in Portland’s original Meatpacking District. The Close In Eastside has a solid inventory of multi-story industrial buildings that meet the aesthetic in demand from start-ups, creative and tech companies: high ceilings, exposed wood beams and heaps of character. Cases in point: the redevelopment of Washington High School and One North buildings in 2014 and Clay Creative in 2016. To keep pace with the increasing demand, the City of Portland continues to designate key properties in and around the area for redevelopment, and plans are afoot to include at least part of the Close In Eastside within the city’s new “Innovation Quadrant”.