Those of you who made it to the “Livable Downtowns” training held in Harrisonburg a couple of weeks ago know that just building upper story housing or rehabbing an old warehouse into loft apartments is not quite enough to get people living downtown. It is important to have the amenities people need (dry cleaning, corner market, etc.), as well as the attractions they want.
Yahoo has a listing of the 20 best places to live for young people (ages 20-29). To sum it up, these communities either have a lot educational opportunities, entertainment options, a reputation for progressive thinking and tolerance, or a combination of all three. While these communities are mostly larger than your downtown, the principles are the same – feed the mind, stomach and soul of your residents and your downtowns will be attractive to the creative, educated and entrepreneurial among us.
Many of you have heard me refer to Arlington and many of the things they have done to become one of Washington D.C.’s hippest placest to live. By focusing on excellence in the school system (three of the four county high schools are ranked in the top 75 in the U.S.), having a high density of public transportation and being extremely pedestrian and bicycle friendly, as well as offering great public amenities such as parks and libraries and having a extensive array of dining and entertainment options, Arlington attracts new professionals and keeps them as they raise a family. While this funny video pokes fun at Arlington’s “yuppieness” and has lots of inside jokes, it could only have been produced by a group of extremely energetic and creative people.