Kansas City Losing Downtown Millennials
All the money Kansas City is pouring into downtown doesn’t seem to be working. At least, when it comes to attracting young, tech-savvy millennials, there appears to be no appreciable success.
The city spends (or diverts) millions each year on streetcars, apartment buildings and luxury condos, and entertainment districts in a breathless effort to attract millennials. Initially there was some evidence to suggest this was working. Data from 2000 and 2012 showed that although city-wide Kansas City was not attracting those aged 25 to 34 on pace with national average, the downtown area was doing okay.
But that may be changing. A new report from CBRE Research, “2016 Scoring Tech Talent,” shows that from 2009 through 2014, Kansas City’s population of millennials ages 20 to 29 living downtown dropped 5.3%. St. Louis saw a drop of 3.5%; the national average was an increase of 3.1%. This is despite findings that Kansas City is very competitive on wage and rent obligations for tech firms, rents per square foot for offices and apartments, and the rent-to-wage ratio.
Add this to our recent finding that market values along the streetcar Transportation Development District are lower today than they were in 2012, and the city’s downtown policies aren’t looking so smart. What makes this worse is that the dollars being spent to lure millennials are coming at the cost of money to schools, libraries, basic services, and infrastructure.