Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Factors for Attracting Baby Boomers and Millennials to Downtown Living: Implications for Revitalizing Guam's Downtown Hagatna

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Factors for Attracting Baby Boomers and Millennials to Downtown Living: Implications for Revitalizing Guam's Downtown Hagatna

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In 2006, it was estimated that members of the American Millennial generation between 20 and 29 years old would grow to 44 million by 2015. It was also estimated that the members of the Baby Boomer generation between the ages of 50 and 59 years would reach 44 million by the same year. This changing population distribution has already affected market trends. For the Baby Boomers, we will see more empty nesters moving towards dense urban centers seeking community and entertainment. For Millennials, a generation that has exponentially grown in its social consciousness in sync with technology, we will see a desire for mixed-use living that is convenient and accessible to work and play. Both generations are more environmentally conscious than their forefathers Henry Ford and the like who envisioned an infinite amount of space and gasoline, where every American would have room to sprawl out. These two groups, young professionals and empty nesters, are the primary driving force behind a phenomenon that could be coined "reurbanization."

The reasons for this living trend are varied, complex and generation specific. According to Kennedy, Millennials grew up in suburbia; bland environments dependent on others for mobility. They are entering the adulthood seeking lifestyle: vitality, diversity, and community. There are those who assert that Millennials want to move downtown due to desire of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods, and are not as interested in large dwellings as they are towards small rentable units. Besides a place to live in an urban center, millennials want retail conveniences like neighborhood grocery stores. Other attractions include drugstores and mini-markets, wireless network access, and mass transit such as a trolley bus transportation system (Mason, 2007). But, Millennials are not the only ones who will be driving this sea of change from suburban to high quality urban environments. Baby Boomers will soon be retiring in increasing numbers.

The safe enclosed traditional retirement community is no longer as attractive as one may perceive. Kennedy posits that retirement communities in their current form resemble warehouses more than they do the most desirable of retirement "villages"--real communities where retirees can be independent and empowered, such as the upper East Side and Key West." (Kennedy, 8). A recent report by the United Hospital Fund noted that the city is "a good place to grow old." Services and amenities needed by many older Americans are more plentiful and accessible in the city. In one empty nester couple's experience, they indicated that aside from the museums and cultural events that serve as attractions and make downtown living fun, there are also restaurants, stores, a sense of vitality on the streets, and the diversity of age and ethnic groups. It's a lively atmosphere to live in." (AARP Bulletin Today, 2004) In the United Sates, Baby Boomers have had a substantial impact on downtown housing, particularly after transitioning from full-nesters to empty-nesters (Volk and Zimmerman). Although Baby Boomers and Millennials are already the primary purchasers of condominiums, Millennials are more inclined to rent, and Boomers are more inclined to buy homes (Mason).

Whatever the varying reasons are for the growing preference of reurbanization, the implications of this reverse-urbanization are straightforward. The convergence of the size of Baby Boomer and Millennial generations is reaching a point where urban housing, as opposed to suburbanization, better suits their life stage. The synchronization of these two demographic waves will mean that by 2015 there will be over eight million additional potential urban housing consumers in these age groups. According to Urban Land Strategist Chris Leinberger, only 10 percent of the demand for such mixed use walkable urban communities is being met.

The demand for reurbanization in America has reached across oceans to its farthest soil. …

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