Urbanization Will Sweep the Planet

megacityIf there’s one thing the experts are clear about, it’s that our world will be significantly more urbanized by 2039. There will be a rise in the number of mega-cities – urban areas with more than 10 million inhabitants.

Baby boomers will be part of that phenomenon. Many empty-nesters are attracted to the manageable charms of the city. But it’s the desire of Gen X, those born in 1966-1976, and Gen Y, those born in 1977-1994, cohorts to live, work and play in a compact area that’s largely fueling the trend. Multifamily residential stands to gain, but companies keen to attract young, educated talent are paying attention, too, and positioning themselves accordingly.

“Some businesses today consider location even more important than compensation in recruitment efforts,” said Rick Cleveland, a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. “That’s driving a lot of the trend toward urban areas.”

That doesn’t mean that any old building on any city block will suffice for the worker of 2039. “The features that older-generation office spaces have, in terms of locations and amenities surrounding or in the facility, don’t work for the new-age tenant,” said Sicola, who points to companies in Manhattan that are abandoning midtown for the west edge of the island and buildings that can be retrofitted for open infrastructure.

“For baby boomers, it was ‘live to work,’ but Gen Xers are working to live. They like to take breaks, have fun. Incorporating that into the workplace is critical,” Cleveland said.