by Albert Goldson
The worldwide demographic trend has been towards greater urban density. In the U.S., accommodating this urban population growth is rezoning that enables the revitalization of downtown areas for both business and residential purposes. This change has been a huge attraction for Millennials on many different levels.
Despite social media there is no substitute for human interaction. Since most Millennials don’t own or can’t afford cars, downtown areas provide the perfect mecca for business and social gatherings. A car is an expensive luxury nowadays for Millennials requiring a down payment, endless car payments, expensive insurance, gas expenses, and regular maintenance. Without such onerous expenses a Millennial can more readily afford to live in a downtown neighborhood. Additionally public transportation is already established to serve these areas. For this reason, young entrepreneurs can combine work and play in a central location.
Supporting this growth are easily accessible cafes, restaurants, galleries, event and meeting places whose central location. Geographically a central location with diverse offerings make it “weather-proof” since there’s no need to drive – simply walk or bike. And for further to reach venues, they can take Uber, the ‘official’ and preferred limousine service of Millennials everywhere.
Psychologically these revitalized downtown areas evoke the bygone, brick & mortar of a romantic urban Americana for the 21st century worker who works with their fingers on a keyboard instead of the 20th century worker who worked with muscular arms loading & off-loading merchandise. This parallels the fashion industry’s trend towards the same nostalgic vintage America in the recreation of 20th century fashion designs particularly outdoor and denim wear.
Visually the many renovated or repurposed commercial and industrial buildings segue well in the Millennial mindset in the form of architectural recycling. Their grandfather’s commercial neighborhoods provide a psychological anchor, a connection to the past, in a fast-paced, ever changing world. These architectural gems provide one of the few constants in a world of ultra short-term and disposable products.
Even for the older generations, notably Generations X and Y, now in early middle age, who lived (and survived) in a world without social media, the new downtown areas are a powerful emotional attraction. They witnessed the demise of these areas that were relegated to the historical dump heap. But now, rising like a phoenix, it confirms that urban regrowth is possible throughout the country and that Soho and Tribeca were not just exceptions to the rule. Headsets have replaced fedoras and youth has replaced middle age in these areas yet the spirit of working hard and playing hard is unchanged.
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