Whether attempting to revitalize a suffering city like Detroit or create more residential options to a neighborhood in an already thriving metropolis like New York, civic leaders and developers agree on the value of a strong downtown core.
Forbes Magazine compiled a list of U.S. cities with emerging downtowns. According to the magazine, vibrant urban living opportunities are one of the biggest factors to attract "young professionals" -- key for businesses looking to locate where the potential workforce is.
Full List: 15 U.S. Cities’ Emerging Downtowns
The population of college-educated 25- to 34-year-olds jumped 26 percent from 2000 to 2010 in major cities' downtowns, according to Forbes, more than double cities' overall growth.
In Detroit, developers are working to create a stronger retail and business corridor. It will be anchored by a proposed light rail line, planned through a public-private partnership, that will run a short route along the city's main thoroughfare. Despite massive vacancy in the city as a whole, downtown suffers from a lack of real estate, with an occupancy rate over 95 percent.
Other cities have relied on a relationship between public and private interests. In Louisville, Ky., revitalization efforts are in part pushed by the bourbon industry, as the city works to restore its Whiskey Row area.
In Denver, Forbes points out, successful efforts to strength the lower downtown district began in the late '80s supported by $240 million in bonds and have since expanded to include the rest of downtown.
Check out downtown development efforts in eight U.S. cities below, and head to Forbes for the rest of the list. Some might surprise you!
Detroit has suffered a bad reputation for years now, thanks to its weak economy and mass exodus of residents. "It's a tale of two cities: the one that’s bankrupt and then there’s the one that’s revitalizing its downtown and attracting the 'young and the restless,'" says Lee Fisher of CEOs for Cities. Detroit's downtown is transforming in large part thanks to billionaire Quicken loans founder Dan Gilbert. He has poured millions into purchasing and redeveloping the area's commercial real estate, relocating many of his businesses to the area. In 2011, five companies (Quicken Loans, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware, DTE Energy, Strategic Staffing Solutions) pledged more than $4 million to encourage and aid employees in buying, renting or remodeling homes in the area. It's part of a larger initiative to attract 15,000 young professionals downtown by 2015. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
Civic and business leaders began work on the city's Lower Downtown neighborhood in 1989 with the issuance of $240 million in bonds. Today LoDo is a trendy 'hood of over 100 restored Victorian warehouses and buildings filled with art galleries, boutiques, local eateries and nightclubs. Denver's now in the midst of a 20-year, seven-mega project plan to expand the revitalization efforts throughout the rest of the downtown district. Downtown Denver Partnership says the area has welcomed $3.6 billion worth of non-residential public and private investment in in the decade ending 2011, with over $1 billion in public and private development slated to come online this year and in 2014. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
The city has attracted $1.8 billion in reinvestment since 1992, according to the APA. Over the past decade, Louisville converted much of its subsidized housing downtown to market-rate real estate and expanded retail offerings. In 2011, the mayor unveiled a public-private initiative to restore downtown Louisville’s Whiskey Row. The buildings are expected to house bourbon-themed restaurants and nightlife spots, adding to the success of nearby projects like the mixed-use Whiskey Row Lofts. Bourbon distilleries have begun moving their operations back to the area as well, including Mitcher’s Distillery, Heaven Hill and whiskey giant Jim Beam. The area's residential population, though still small, grew about 10% from 2000 to 2010. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
Los Angeles recently approved plans for a massive $1 billion-plus renovation that will yield an incredible new NFL stadium. It's the latest initiative in the city's redevelopment pipeline, which kicked off in the 1990s. Efforts have yielded the LA Live entertainment district, anchored by the Staples Center, a rail transit system, and plans for the slowly-realized Grand Avenue Development Project. That venture would add several million square feet of commercial space by private developers, including an up-and-coming $130 million art museum funded by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad. Private development projects like the Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live have also helped draw new residents to the area. According to the Downtown Los Angeles Center Business Improvement District, downtown LA's residential population is just under 50,000, compared to fewer than 20,000 residents in the late 1990s. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
This Texas border hub launched efforts to revitalize its downtown in 2006, with the help of more than $700 million in government reinvestment. In November voters cleared the use of $473 million in bonds to be funneled into 85 different redevelopment projects. Among the larger projects slated: a children's museum, cultural heritage center, and a new Triple-A baseball stadium, for which construction begins this spring. Joyce Wilson, El Paso's city manager, expects the area will see a doubling in growth in terms of the tax base within the next five to 10 years, as the number of local residents and businesses grow. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
Since 2001, the country's largest city has poured more than $430 billion in public and private reinvestment into Lower Manhattan, the square mile encompassing the World Trade Center and Wall Street. Unlike other borough neighborhoods, the area has remained relatively modest in terms of residents in recent decades. But that's changing. The population more than doubled in the decade ending 2010 according to Census data, and with it, the number of residential real estate options. Median home prices have more than doubled too and the Alliance for Downtown New York says 391 companies have relocated to the area since 2005. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
Since the mid-1990s, the small Michigan city has drummed up billions in public-private funding. Investments have yielded the Van Andel Arena, the new $60 million home of the Grand Rapids Museum, a $220 million convention center, and $1 billion in new hospitals and new headquarters for Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine. Rockford Construction has converted more than a dozen abandoned warehouses and office buildings into 400,000 square feet of updated residential, retail and office space. This summer will welcome the $30 million Downtown Market, a year-round culinary marketplace, spanning 130,000 square feet and the city plans to build a rapid transit bus line that will more easily cart people from the suburbs to Grand Rapids' downtown. Caption courtesy of Forbes.
The northeastern industrial hub's downtown, which by the late 1980s had succumbed to an exodus of businesses and people, has slowly begun to turnaround. Class A office space as of the third quarter of 2012 was 94.5% leased, compared to 85% a decade earlier. PNC Financial opened a $170 million-plus office tower in 2009, with a $400 million second tower under construction now. The area's population was about 8,000, according to the U.S. Census, up 21% from 2000. Since 2009, 219 new housing units have come to market, with another 346 under construction, according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. To put this in perspective, the number of residential developments has more than doubled in the past 30 years, the majority of new projects erected in the past seven. Caption courtesy of Forbes.