A housing development planned for Buffalo, NY, has its eye on millennials, most notably through affordable rents and proximity to downtown jobs on foot, bike or via bus. The community is also planning running paths, vehicle charging stations, and a health and wellness center, WBFO reported.
Work on the 13-acre, $48-million project, The Forge on Broadway, will begin this year with contamination cleanup of the former manufacturing site. When complete, it will include 159 apartments, 25 townhomes and 11,600 square feet of retail space, according to The Buffalo News.
- Of the project’s apartments, 80% will be marked for residents earning 60% or less than the area median income for a family of four. The rest will be for tenants earning between 60% and 120% of the AMI.
While many newly minted college graduates are heading for New York or Los Angeles, others are eyeing Rust Belt cities like Buffalo for their appealing mix of low housing costs, returning employment opportunities and plenty of arts and culture, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Indeed, millennials — people born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s — will play a key role in the recovery of those cities, which have seen their populations steadily decline in the last few decades. In a report earlier this year, the Urban Land Institute recommended that cities in the Great Lakes region of the Rust Belt make targeted investments to attract and keep young families, welcome and support immigrants and improve workforce development.
The region’s economy is undergoing a dramatic shift. Once centers of industrial manufacturing known globally, cities like Buffalo, Akron, OH, and Albany, NY, today are being called “emerging hotspots” for the new high-tech manufacturing economy that deals in smart technology, big data and automation. Tesla’s planned solar battery factory for Buffalo is one indicator that the new manufacturing economy is making inroads there.
Rents for one-bedroom apartments have been on the rise in Buffalo the past few months, increasing 5.7% from February to March and 6.5% from March to April before leveling off from April to May. Median rent in Buffalo in May for a one-bedroom was $1,054, just above the national median of $1,012.
The Forge’s developers are betting on millennials sticking around the city. However, some experts are calling for the group, at large, to gradually move to lower-cost, lower-density areas as they consider homeownership.
Buffalo is one city feeling the change. It saw a 10.3% increase in the number of millennials living in its suburbs from 2010 to 2015, the ninth-highest nationwide, compared to a 6.0% increase urban areas.