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Millennials drawn to Wilmington

Great feature piece in the New York Times from a few months ago about the boom in construction aimed at the millennials. Wilmington has a huge cost advantage over its neighbor to the north (Philly), and with a great train station it is an easy ride.

From the article:

In a downtown district previously characterized by pawnshops and check-cashing stores, hundreds of apartments are being built here for a new generation of young professionals who want to live and play in the communities where they work.

Buildings that have been vacant or underused for years are being demolished or rebuilt in what city officials say is a sharp increase in the number of residential units available in the city center.

Some 380 units along Market Street, the city’s main commercial strip, or within a block of it, are due for completion between June 2015 and August 2016 in a series of projects representing a total investment of $91 million.

The apartments are aimed at millennials — those born starting in the early 1980s — who are driving increased demand for city-center living, car-free commutes and transit-oriented development in cities around the country, and could do the same here for Delaware’s largest city.

“People want to live, work and play in the same community, and developers are responding to that,” said Michael J. Hare, a senior vice president at the Buccini/Pollin Group, developer of the downtown projects. “We believe the time is right for urban living.

And this bit on better nightlife and more jobs on the way:

New restaurants in the area received an unexpected boost last summer when the construction-related closure of a nearby section of Interstate 495 led many commuters to stay later in the city to avoid traffic congestion, prompting restaurants to offer happy hour specials and stay open later, Ms. Wrobel said.

The benefits to night life appear to have continued despite the reopening of the highway, Ms. Wrobel said. “That trend has stayed alive, which is really nice to see, living here,” she said.

Her loyalty to Wilmington is also helped by its affordability relative to nearby cities. Ms. Wrobel said she paid the same rent, $1,395 a month, for a two-bedroom apartment with parking as she did for a one-bedroom unit without parking in the Old City section of Philadelphia, where she previously lived.

Despite some worries about her safety, Ms. Wrobel said she planned to stay in Wilmington because of its affordability and the many job opportunities in the legal profession.

For Patrick Goldring, 25, an information technology consultant who lives on Market Street but commutes to work in the Philadelphia suburbs, the city’s efforts to create a vibrant residential area are still a work in progress. He described the neighborhood as predominantly a business district, and said many stores were closed by the time he returned from work at 6 p.m.

He said the city and developers appeared to be preparing for an influx of workers for financial services companies like JPMorgan Chase, which already employs about 7,500 people in Delaware, and in 2014 bought two buildings in downtown Wilmington.

Full Article here:

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