Walkable City in North Carolina Attracts Millennials Seeking Affordability Amidst Explosive Growth

Millennials flock to walkable North Carolina city, driving up home prices. Developers aim to address affordability with new affordable housing projects. Raleigh also revitalizes downtown to attract businesses and residents post-pandemic.

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Momen Zellmi
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Walkable City in North Carolina Attracts Millennials Seeking Affordability Amidst Explosive Growth

Millennials Flock to Walkable North Carolina City as Miami Alternative

A walkable city in North Carolina's Research Triangle area has become a popular destination for millennials seeking an alternative to the flashy Miami lifestyle. The city, which features a thriving food and bar scene, has experienced explosive growth in recent years, leading to a surge in home prices in surrounding counties.

To address the housing affordability challenges, developers are increasingly pitching and preserving affordable housing units. Reuter Walton Development of Minnesota is the latest company seeking to rezone a 2.91-acre parcel in Clayton to build a 96-unit apartment building, with all units restricted to households earning 60% of the area's median income. While the company has primarily focused on projects in Minnesota, it is now expanding to other markets, including Bozeman, Montana, and evaluating sites in the Midwest and East Coast.

The city's rapid population growth, from just over 16,000 in 2010 to nearly 30,000 as of 2022, has put significant strain on the local housing market. Raleigh, the state capital, is also working to revitalize its downtown area in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic Development Director Kyle Touchstone stated that the goal is to attract new businesses, residents, and visitors to the downtown area by building new apartments, establishing new restaurants and retail businesses, and expanding the Raleigh Convention Center.

Why this matters: The migration of millennials to smaller, walkable cities with thriving food and entertainment scenes highlights a shift in housing preferences and the need for affordable housing solutions in rapidly growing areas. The revitalization efforts in Raleigh and other cities demonstrate the importance of adapting to changing demographics and economic conditions in the post-pandemic era.

During the pandemic, downtown Raleigh's foot traffic fell from 60,000 people to about 30,000 but has since rebounded to 50,000 to 55,000 people, indicating a return to offices and increased spending in the area. Other North Carolina cities, such as Charlotte and Durham, are also seeing a recovery in their downtown pedestrian traffic, with Charlotte at around 76% of pre-pandemic levels and Durham at almost 80%. Experts emphasize that the key to revitalizing downtowns is to transform them into central activity districts rather than just business development.

Key Takeaways

  • Walkable NC city attracts millennials, leading to surging home prices.
  • Developers pitch affordable housing units to address affordability challenges.
  • Raleigh aims to revitalize downtown with new apartments, businesses, and convention center.
  • Downtown foot traffic in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Durham recovering post-pandemic.
  • Experts emphasize transforming downtowns into central activity districts, not just business hubs.