Our society is urbanizing at an increasing rate, with big cities growing faster than the country as whole. Urban areas are booming, and revitalization makes city centers an attractive place to both live and work. People see the value of decreased travel time and more access to city amenities that are afforded by living nearer the city center.
This is due to a wide range of factors, many related to the dominance of the millennial generation, which now makes up 1/3 of our population. This group tends to favor smaller individual spaces in exchange for convenient access to great public spaces and the amenities found downtown. They’re also environmentally conscious and they look for a more sustainable way to live.
These preferences spill over to the workplace, which is all about collaboration and amenities. The start-up culture is particularly well –suited to this approach, and it thrives on the stimulation of a vibrant city neighborhood.
In response to this, developers are creating city districts that incorporate innovative workspace, convenient living options, and convenient transportation. A great example of this phenomenon is San Diego’s IDEA District. Located in a formerly bleak area of downtown known as the East Village, it’s getting a lot of attention from other cities looking to rejuvenate under-used areas.
San Diego’s IDEA District
The plan for the IDEA district will eventually involve 35 multi-use city blocks. The development will encourage a “creative economy” by providing start-up housing and creative office space. It aims to attract innovative and creative businesses relating design and technology. To make the district a great place to live as well as work, the plan also includes shops and dining that will appeal to this younger crowd.
The district will encourage a sense of community by providing plenty of outdoor space for events and entertainment. This helps advance the goal of interaction among residents that will lead to more business opportunities and innovation. It’s also an important factor in recruitment and retention of talent, which is a concern for companies of all sizes and types.
The IDEA district caters to a design-focused industry, but similar mixed-use ideas are underway or being planned elsewhere to accommodate fine arts and technology, as well as other business types. “Innovation Districts” can be found in cities around the world, like Barcelona and Seoul, as well as major U.S. cities. It’s often the case that small businesses like to locate near their competitors, providing potential customers with a focus for service. Developers can cater to the industry’s requirements for space and then inject amenities that make the area fun and attractive –the things that make neighborhoods more livable.
Are there more places like the IDEA district in our future? Given the growing trend toward urbanization and the still-growing influence of the millennial generation, it seems certain. The beauty of the concept is in its flexibility. It can be applied to different industries and locations depending on the area’s needs and assets. It builds on these to create a vibrant community where talent and opportunity meet for coffee.