Suburbs See Rise of ‘Hipsturbia’

“Hipsturbia” is one of the emerging trends in real estate, according to a report by the Urban Land Institute. The term refers to the trend of suburbs that are creating their own versions of downtowns featuring vibrant “live/work/play” districts. More suburbs are taking a chance on these mixed-use, walkable developments, researchers note in the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report.

“Many of these ‘cool’ suburbs are associated with metro areas having vibrant downtowns, illustrating the falsity of a dichotomy that pits central cities against ring communities,” the researchers note.

In Omaha, it’s not the suburbs, but neighborhood districts that are seeing the trend – NoDo, Benson, the Blackstone district, the Old Market and Aksarben Village are examples. Another such area is just being built just west of Boys Town.

The communities around Silicon Valley between San Francisco and San Jose are evolving into hipsturbia centers. The report calls out Santa Clara, Calif., that is developing 240 acres with offices, hotels, serviced apartments and residences, along with open space for recreation. “The presence of Stanford University is a massive contributor to a hipsturbia environment,” researchers note. “A constant supply of young adults is the lifeblood of hipsturbias.”

The trend can also be seen playing out in Tempe, Ariz., near Arizona State University. Its transit access and cluster of coffee shops, sit-down restaurants, brewpubs, retail and entertainment are reinventing the area. Other areas, like Evanston, Ill. – just outside of Chicago and home to Northwestern University – as well as Atlanta suburbs of Decatur and Alpharetta, are also vying to become a “cool suburb,” researchers note.

“As more and more suburbs – not all, but those with the right recipe – attract a critical mass of ‘hip’ residents, their success will become increasingly visible,” researchers note. “This will multiple the number of imitators, keeping the trend going.” The live/work/play model could revive suburbs and make them an attractive place for millennials and younger adults to settle down, researchers say.

Shift From Suburbs to Cities a Costly Move

citycondosMore Americans say they want the shorter commutes and nearby entertainment that come with living near the city center and they are shelling out big bucks to make that choice.

This marks a shift away from suburban demand, which has driven home construction for decades, The Associated Press reports. Living near city centers is often more costly and may force more Americans to rent, says John Mcllwain, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute. “Middle-class Americans are being squeezed out,” he says.

Land prices in cities with attractive amenities is surging, industry strategist and George Washington University professor Christopher Leinberger says.

The convenience of living downtown doesn’t come cheap. In Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, the starting price for a townhome development in the downtown area – with restaurants, stores and a waterfront park – is $610,000. That’s nearly three times the average in the metro area.

In 2012, homebuilder Toll Brothers spent $24 million to buy two-thirds of an acre near Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. That’s the equivalent of about $830 a square foot. Before the ballpark was there, the going rate was about $5 a square foot for the land.

In Chicago, a complex of 47 luxury row houses in the downtown area broke ground last month and every apartment was sold before construction began. Units start at $562,900. Buyers were willing to wait 12 to 16 months before being able to move in.

The American Planning Association says that even though 40 percent of Americans live in a suburb “where most people drive to places,” only 7 percent expressed a desire to remain in car-dominated neighborhoods.