I’ve heard a handful of people talking today about this New York Times article published yesterday: Where Young College Graduates are Choosing to Live. This especially resonates for me, since by next June I’ll be looking for an adult job in a new city. My first thought has always been New York. Is there a better place to study architecture and report on a vibrant and ever-developing urban life? Well, according to this study by City Observatory released Monday, yes. And Buffalo may be the place to be.
Five points for the Rust Belt cities of New York state! Represent.
The study showed a major change from 2000 to 2012 in the number of college grads aged 25-34 moving to larger metropolitan areas with thriving city centers. Houston was ranked first with a 50 percent increase; then Nashville, 48 percent; Denver, 47 percent; Austin, 44 percent; Portland, 37 percent; Washington, 36 percent and Buffalo at 34 percent. Buffalo beat out Baltimore, L.A., Pittsburgh, St. Louis and… New York City.
Why? Because even Buffalo, our sister-city to the West has experienced a resurgence in its young adult population. Basically, it’s still New York, but cheaper. Kids these days want to eat, own a hip studio apartment AND have fun in the city. Life in the Big Apple can sometimes only afford you one of those desires. And that’s scary.
So, what’s Buffalo have that we don’t?
To start, they have major support from Cuomo. The Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan is the governor’s way of sky rocketing economic development in the West including job creation and new construction in medicine, education and more. Buffalo Niagara has suffered from a decrease in population for decades, but now with the resurgence of the city’s long-term business initiatives, New York’s second largest city has become a hotspot for young professionals.
Some of the major projects include a new canalside waterfront redevelopment, new hotels and luxury condos in downtown, the HARBORcenter development where the Buffalo Sabres play and Mutual Riverfront Park which includes a museum, public park, boardwalk promenade, river overlook and boat launch. Click here to see renderings of the projects and more.
Another reason for this boom in Buffalo is probably coming from Buffalo Niagara 360, a program for young professionals started in 2008. It serves as a major resource for employers seeking to successfully recruit talented young people, and as an effort to help professionals network and communicate in the Buffalo business world.
The BuffaloNews published a fantastic editorial this weekend on housing in downtown Buffalo – something Syracuse is pushing for as well. Author Marilyn Cappellino argues that a new downtown residential plan is spurring excitement in Buffalo’s Central Business District. The Queen City Hub regional action plan has been an ongoing effort since 2000, but Buffalo residents are just not seeing results from the plan’s first set of housing goals. Developers want to build diverse housing options in and around the district with cheap and high-end apartments.
Maybe our city needs a Syracuse Zillion grant from the government, downtown apartments sold at $1 per square foot, or at least a Syracuse 180 program. Don’t we deserve a tidbit of the state’s attention as a prominent city in Central New York? How do our economic development strategies match up?
Moving on up(state)
The NYT said that millennials are moving to the heart of cities because we spurn the thought of suburban living. I agree. It’s just not enough for us. I’d rather move to an economically troubled area with a up-and-coming downtown (like Buffalo or Cleveland or SYRACUSE) than live on the outskirts Atlanta, Ga.
Thirty-seven percent of young-educated people have moved within three miles of city centers since 2000. While this news for Buffalo is exciting, New York City still has the largest amount of college-educated 25-to-34-year-olds in the country. Since it’s so expensive, Buffalo is getting the push-back. We millennials want to live in cities, even ones that aren’t technically on the map yet, but have some serious potential.
The best part about this restlessness that we experience is that wherever settle down later, we’ll make sure it’s the right place for us. We’ll bring our young talent and all the young people we know. We’ll help attract companies to the city. We’ll help the city grow economically. We’ll help keep the city alive. With that kind of attitude, you know the future is bright and powerful.
So I say, if Buffalo can attract young and restless creatives, why can’t Syracuse? We have the university already and we’re actually closer to NYC than Buffalo Niagara. How can we get our students to stay? What development strategies can we employ that put us on the map – the literal one, above?
We young professionals just want to live new adult lives that include a healthy work-play balance. That’s what exciting cities can do when they offer new development, popular downtowns and thriving companies all in one location.