Older millennials leaving the city for a new kind of suburbs

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
Not sure if this is in the right topic but I found it interesting. It talks about suburbs creating city like landscapes. I would imagine it is like a Streets of St. Charles kind of thing.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/olde ... 04971.html
I wouldn't mind purchasing in the suburbs if I believed in their future as a urban places. I don't see anyway to get around
not having a street grid. Millenials still want walkable areas. Plopping down a main street that only serves a limited few seems as far as we're willing to go.

I think as a country we're too cheap, too stubborn and too prejudice to truly makeover suburbia, and that's too bad
because it would solve a lot of problems.

I think the opportunity exists in parts of St. Louis County where the homes and infrastructure are extremely dated
but you just know the pushback would be strong.

In a brighter future St Louis City and County would merge and the cost savings would be redistributed back into a bold vision
of a more urban St. Louis County. All this while the coasts will have to shift more and more money towards battling rising seas;
St. Louis could reinvent itself bigger than ever.
Let me start by saying that I agree, and have witnessed, that millennials are more urban minded than their parents. For all the reasons that are stated all over this forum, I think the "age of the city" is here in a way that it wasn't in the prior couple of generations. I won't argue with that.

But I think we delude ourselves when we think this is a rising tide of thought that has the potential to radically transform St. Louis. This is just anecdotal, but in the time I have lived here, which is basically my whole adult life (20 years), I have worked with and known hundreds and hundreds of people my age and younger, across generally every socio-economic and demographic group. I have worked in all parts of the metro area. A portion of the well-educated professionals, often those who have delayed children, have stayed in the city or close suburbs. Many others have begun their lives in the city and then moved west when buying a home. And when I worked in St. Charles county, the 20-somethings I worked with (and there were a lot of them) had absolutely no desire to live anywhere close to the city.

I bring this up only because I think of the election and how so many people just couldn't possibly have conceived of a Trump victory because they lived in a world where they only interacted with the Clinton voter. If you live in the city, work in the city, and more importantly, are animated by the issues that people on this forum care about, you're going to reach for the studies that reinforce your worldview. But most people, of every age, are not structuring their lives in this manner. Just my observation.

For the St. Louis region to build more of an urban way of living, we are going to have to radically increase the number of young, educated people that move here from other places. And, at the same time, we have to realize that a huge number (70% or 80% or more) of people are never going to live in the city (the idea of "rebuilding St. Louis" just doesn't animate their life) and work on these pockets of urbanism that can exist in St. Louis county.
^To add on to what you said, I think a lot people are just more occupied with their own family life. Most of my friends are in their early 30s and starting families. Most of them do not care about the greater societal impact of where they live. Most just want a place in a nice neighborhood close to family, schools, or things they like. When you bring up topics like sprawl, they don't care or they don't have the time to care.
^Spot on. Groups of people like those on this board who have a vested interest in living and developing an urban environment are a massive minority. Most people live in the city for a while because they think it's fun, but have no intentions of raising a family in the city and have no second thoughts about fleeing to the county.

If I had to rank the challenges that the city must address in order to truly start seeing long term growth again, it's the school system. Crime is obviously running neck and neck, but the city does a great job of attracting young residents and a horrible job of converting them to lifers. Schools are a daunting challenge because so much of it is based on perception which can take generations to overcome.
You're right. One last thing I would say - and this probably sounds trite or even blasphemous to some - is that the age and characteristics of housing stock probably play a role.

Certainly the houses in south city have a "character" that you can't replicate. I, for one, love this character - the charm of gingerbread houses, the brick and stone, the alleys - I think the way they are building houses in the suburbs now is terrible aesthetically and borderline tragic. Don't get me started on siding as a building material. But those old houses also come with tiny closets and old bathrooms and kitchens and not enough bathrooms and detached garages etc etc. When you're young and single, you don't care about things like that. When you have a couple of kids, especially if you yourself were raised in the suburbs, you start to feel like you "need" that second garage space, that third bathroom, that walk-in closet etc. We can argue that our society is too consumer-driven and materialistic, but the majority of people as they age are going to feel that way. Outside of some expensive homes in the west end, St. Louis Hills etc, the only way to get a physical structure with those characteristics in the city is to find a way to do infill (also pricey).

Again, please realize the above statement is not my preference. Just my observation. The "living environment expectation" for a family is dramatically different in 2017 then it was in 1917 or even 1950.

I would love to see the day when the city and county merge into one jurisdiction. I'd love to see how that impacts population numbers etc. But even when that happens, the core neighborhoods of what "used to be the city" are going to have the same problems. Sadly, as trends stand now, the only way to fill up all that region inside of Skinker/River Des Peres again is to import a couple hundred thousand young people and keep that pipeline going as those young people age.
Because we are a low growth region I agree that we have to temper expectations on the pace of change, (I'm not sure who exactly thinks a single generation of young adults is going to radically transform Saint Louis whether we're talking the City or City+County or even the entire Metro) however it appears some here don't fully grasp what's going on in much of the city.

Tremendous change indeed is occurring in many parts of the city (as well as inner "streetcar suburbs" that in many places would be "the city") and as long as this current building cycle and at least a non-sucky local economy lasts things will only continue to improve not only within the significant number of neighborhoods where growth already is happening but also in an expanded geographic reach of presently more marginal neighborhoods. Clearly more young adults that are attracted to city living are coming and are staying longer than in more recent decades as amenities and schooling options, etc. improve.

Compared to many of our peers, our city's challenges are more of 1) a somewhat weaker regional economy 2) not being able to retain African-American millennials as quality of life for much of north-of-Delmar continues to decay and 3) not being able to attract nearly as many immigrants than say Minneapolis has. If we can significantly improve on those last two measures even if the local economy doesn't get into the next gear, we'll be a city that is more diverse and on the up.
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:59 pm
But those old houses also come with tiny closets and old bathrooms and kitchens and not enough bathrooms and detached garages etc etc. When you're young and single, you don't care about things like that. When you have a couple of kids, especially if you yourself were raised in the suburbs, you start to feel like you "need" that second garage space, that third bathroom, that walk-in closet etc.
true. but it's also not that difficult to expand a closet, or a bathroom, or rearrange non-load-bearing walls, etc. the garage thing wouldn't be such an issue if the city were as functional as it was 70 years ago. problem is it takes patience and resources to make an old house into a modern living space. old house maintenance is certainly a turn-off for some, but IMO it's worth it for the atmosphere/aesthetic beauty that accompanies a well-maintained historic nabe/city.

stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:59 pm
I would love to see the day when the city and county merge into one jurisdiction. I'd love to see how that impacts population numbers etc. But even when that happens, the core neighborhoods of what "used to be the city" are going to have the same problems.
not necessarily. i think the biggest hurdle is just getting the majority of the city into a state of good repair. people are more willing to put up with small closets if they're living in a healthy vibrant neighborhood near amenities. For example, Tower Grove isn't having any problems filling old houses. i see plenty of families with kids and stroller-pushing over there. and the same kind of young urban singles ---> suburban families happens everywhere, but healthy cities don't seem to have a problem filling the vacated spaces after the families move out.
I think some of the solution is just proving to our peers what can happen if you stay in the city. I don't know if there's one person I work with that believes me when I say that I plan to raise my kid(s) in the city and that they're going to public schools. They believe I think it, but nobody seems to believe I'm actually going to do it when the time comes.

People like us on this forum have to show the doubters what can be.
^ you'll always have doubters but facts on the ground are the school issue is less of a concern for city-enjoying families than even 5-10 years ago. Definitely room for improvement here as with any urban school eco-systemt, and again especially for families north of Delmar, but whether SLPS, charter or private, more and more families are finding the right fit for their children.
STLRainbow and Urban Dilettante,
I agree with every word that you both have written. My assertion is not that there aren't families that will fill old homes in already desirable neighborhoods like Tower Grove. There are. In a city our size, there are thousands and thousands of urban pioneers. But in order for the city to get "back" there have to be many times more because they have to start filling in all those neighborhoods that are currently less than desirable. And my experience has been that even though a lot of well-educated, well-intentioned people realize what it would take, when push comes to shove, when it's their own kids and their own families instead of a philosophical discussion, they just make a different choice. They may not go to St. Charles, but they'll go to Webster or Maplewood or someplace like that. That's not to suggest that there aren't people making things happen. I've seen considerable improvement in parts of the city in the time I've lived here.

And I think it's wonderful for the other poster above to make a personal commitment to the standard city public school system. That person is a true pioneer. But that truly is a leap of faith. The people I do know that live in the city have all gone private or in a few cases, they have been able to utilize the magnet schools.
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:00 am

I bring this up only because I think of the election and how so many people just couldn't possibly have conceived of a Trump victory because they lived in a world where they only interacted with the Clinton voter. If you live in the city, work in the city, and more importantly, are animated by the issues that people on this forum care about, you're going to reach for the studies that reinforce your worldview.
This is so true. I have to laugh when friends react with absolute shock when they encounter people with vastly different views than their own. As if they really believed the whole of society felt the same as them and their hand-selected group of peers. You would think that today's social media would open people's eyes to wide varieties of opinion, but instead people tend to "un-friend" anyone not exactly like themselves, thus isolating themselves into what amounts to a circle jerk of like-minded people.
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:45 pm
And I think it's wonderful for the other poster above to make a personal commitment to the standard city public school system. That person is a true pioneer. But that truly is a leap of faith. The people I do know that live in the city have all gone private or in a few cases, they have been able to utilize the magnet schools.
I could really take this on a tangent, and I'll try not to, but this is really one of my main sticking points. I don't think I'm truly a pioneer for wanting to use the neighborhood schools. Or at least I don't think I'm actually taking a leap of faith. I believe in the teachers there, and I believe in my ability to parent outside of school hours. And I'm fortunate enough that I should have the time and the resources to be able to do so.

My kid's education isn't going to come down to the building he sits through class in. It's going to come down to how it gets reinforced and supported at home. And that'd be true whether it's the local neighborhood school or the most expensive private school in the region.

I understand why people won't take risks with their kids' educations, I just don't think they understand what the risks are (and aren't).
jstriebel wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:26 am
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:45 pm
And I think it's wonderful for the other poster above to make a personal commitment to the standard city public school system. That person is a true pioneer. But that truly is a leap of faith. The people I do know that live in the city have all gone private or in a few cases, they have been able to utilize the magnet schools.
I could really take this on a tangent, and I'll try not to, but this is really one of my main sticking points. I don't think I'm truly a pioneer for wanting to use the neighborhood schools. Or at least I don't think I'm actually taking a leap of faith. I believe in the teachers there, and I believe in my ability to parent outside of school hours. And I'm fortunate enough that I should have the time and the resources to be able to do so.

My kid's education isn't going to come down to the building he sits through class in. It's going to come down to how it gets reinforced and supported at home. And that'd be true whether it's the local neighborhood school or the most expensive private school in the region.

I understand why people won't take risks with their kids' educations, I just don't think they understand what the risks are (and aren't).
Research out there shows you aren't a pioneer or taking a risk at all. Even kids in poor schools do well with parents who are involved with their children's education and have the time and resources to do it and it sounds like you will be. Wife and I are going through this same decision with our little one. We still have years to decide but more and more the neighborhood school (Mason which I hear great things about anyway) is more then enough because we will make sure our child has all the resources and support from us
jstriebel wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:54 pm
I think some of the solution is just proving to our peers what can happen if you stay in the city. I don't know if there's one person I work with that believes me when I say that I plan to raise my kid(s) in the city and that they're going to public schools. They believe I think it, but nobody seems to believe I'm actually going to do it when the time comes.

People like us on this forum have to show the doubters what can be.
Hallelujah!
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:45 pm
My assertion is not that there aren't families that will fill old homes in already desirable neighborhoods like Tower Grove. There are. In a city our size, there are thousands and thousands of urban pioneers. But in order for the city to get "back" there have to be many times more because they have to start filling in all those neighborhoods that are currently less than desirable.
Well, the people filling the old homes in the already desirable neighborhoods aren't pioneers. The people who are turning the undesirable neighborhoods into desirable ones are the pioneers. And my point about old homes was just that small closets, detached garage, etc. aren't such deal breakers when the neighborhood is desirable, as is demonstrated by Tower Grove.

But as those desirable neighborhoods fill to capacity, incentive increases for "pioneers" to spread to surrounding up-and-coming neighborhoods. And as those neighborhoods improve they attract less adventurous residents and they refill, and so on and so forth.
I am an older Millennial married with child. We are staying (at least that's the plan now) in Clayton because I'm 1 block from the best elementary school in the state and a few blocks from the best middle school in the state.

And I feel like my neighborhood is as urban and walkable and architecturally stimulating as just about any neighborhood in the metro. And Wydown was recently named a great street by the American Planning Association.
stlokc wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:45 pm
STLRainbow and Urban Dilettante,
I agree with every word that you both have written. My assertion is not that there aren't families that will fill old homes in already desirable neighborhoods like Tower Grove. There are. In a city our size, there are thousands and thousands of urban pioneers. But in order for the city to get "back" there have to be many times more because they have to start filling in all those neighborhoods that are currently less than desirable. And my experience has been that even though a lot of well-educated, well-intentioned people realize what it would take, when push comes to shove, when it's their own kids and their own families instead of a philosophical discussion, they just make a different choice. They may not go to St. Charles, but they'll go to Webster or Maplewood or someplace like that. That's not to suggest that there aren't people making things happen. I've seen considerable improvement in parts of the city in the time I've lived here.

And I think it's wonderful for the other poster above to make a personal commitment to the standard city public school system. That person is a true pioneer. But that truly is a leap of faith. The people I do know that live in the city have all gone private or in a few cases, they have been able to utilize the magnet schools.
I agree we're going to need more families -- and more of everybody -- if Saint Louis City and Saint Louis County are going to grow at a decent clip, however, for the Central and South corridors at least, the city already is coming "back" as we've had an influx of young educated and immigrants come in. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but again it's going back to more regional issues such as a comparatively weaker economy and slower immigration that is holding things back as compared to city schools and crime, etc. The question in my mind isn't really why isn't Central and South City growing faster, it's why isn't the County and region? (The issue of North of Delmar, while a challenging one, seems to be beyond the scope here of discussing issues related to those young adults who were attracted to city living and what happens as they age.)

With respect to schools I think you're a bit guilty there in that second highlight of your caution about Trump perceptions; rather insular. In my children's orbits, they have friends and teammates etc. from all kinds of schools in the city... magnet and neighborhood SLPS, charters, Catholic and other private. You may not believe me, but it's absolutely true that more educated families with young children are staying in the city now compared to even just 5-10 years ago. Ten years ago there was maybe an automatic flight to the burbs as soon as the pregnancy kit came back positive, five years ago there was more willingness to stay around with pre-schoolers and investigate elementary schooling options, now there's more and more actually staying and enrolling.

Finally, I just want to reiterate that our number of families as a percentage of overall population (at least measured by percentage of population under 18) is pretty much in line with other cities... this is not the key to growth; rather it's attracting more young adults and immigrants in the first place,
For what it's worth....St. Louis made it to the HuffPost today. Could St. Louis start seeing some of that shine Pittsburgh and Detroit have recently been getting?

Don’t Call It a Comeback: St. Louis’ Latest Accolade Is Top City For Millennials

link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/don ... a1687a5fec