What trends are guiding the future of downtowns like our own? This was the question guiding a presentation from Brad Segal of Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) to the City Council last night.
Segal is the President of PUMA which has been working with the BBA and other downtown stakeholders to discuss the future of Burlington’s Downtown Improvement District. The presentation focused PUMA’s list of ‘Top 10 Global Trends Affecting Downtowns & How to Respond at Home‘.
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The presentation to City Council last night looked at how changing age demographics are impacting downtowns across the country and what it could mean for communities like ours. The presentation highlighted the opportunities that exist for “Mid Tier” cities which offer more affordability and a more relaxed small city lifestyle.
Segal pointed to Burlington as being one of many communities that are competing to attract the growing number of millennial workers. Millennials are the fastest growing group in the American workforce and could make up as much as 75% of workers by 2050. Burlington stands in a position to benefit from its large population of university students.
Changing consumer priorities include the need for more urban housing and the creation of multi dimensional neighborhoods in areas that used to be more focused on retail and office space. This rise is fueled by a mix of young people attracted to a more urban lifestyle and baby boomers downsizing as they get older.
Another key aspect was social responsibility becoming an economic imperative for communities that hope to attract millennial workers. A growing priority for the young people is protecting economic opportunity for all and supporting diversity are key parts of building a successful modern downtown.
PUMA was hired as a consultant for the Downtown Improvement District project this winter. This week they will be meeting with key stakeholders including residents, property owners, small business owners and elected officials. In May representatives from PUMA held focus groups to hear from individuals about what their own priorities for Burlington’s downtown.