Many suburbs like Franklin, with committees and commissions populated by folks who settled here back when most of their neighbors were farmers and open fields, have a hard time with this concept.
Good center cities need not only retail and housing but offices as well, to make these places come alive day and night. On the commercial corridors, revitalization efforts should focus on the key intersections, where the shops and restaurants already want to go. People go where they will see other people.
"People go where they will see other people." The opposite of the "I moved here to get away from people" paradigm of the early far-flung suburbs -- but not mutually exclusive. Large suburbs can create central civic centers while maintaining sparse subdivisions, and people will self-select newer dense neighborhoods.
Talented young workers increasingly pick the city first and the job second.
The make-or-break for both companies and cities is their ability to draw college-educated workers who have come of age since the turn of the millennium. This is a generation that has grown up with more choice than ever before, that has learned to mix and match not only the clothing it buys, but its work and leisure time as well. Flexibility and convenience drive their lives. Many start the workday in mid-morning, break for a workout or a meal out with friends, and then go back to the office for more work far into the evening. The office of the future may look a whole lot more like the neighborhood coffee house.
Milwaukee Magazine's Newsbuzz site reports that the growing popularity of downtown is measureable:
In 2000, following the completion of the last U.S. Census, the Brookings Institution studied American downtowns and pegged Milwaukee as one of five (and the only one in the Midwest) with a residential population “on the edge of takeoff.” A couple years prior, in response to a Brookings survey, Milwaukee leaders guessed Downtown’s population would grow to 13,500 by 2010.
It’s beaten that mark, according to a report released earlier this year by Milwaukee’s Downtown Business Improvement District. Downtown population estimates prepared by a GIS consultant say about 15,000 people live in Milwaukee’s Downtown, more than Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cleveland, Memphis or Nashville.