I would be interested in hearing from some millennials out there on whether they agree with how they are characterized here.
MiKen Development, is preparing to launch a development of 60 homes ranging from 850 to 1,600 square feet on a 5.5 acre site at 1206 60th Avenue N. in West Nashville across from West Park.
Unlike Baby Boomers, the millennial generation is less interested in large houses in the suburbs.
They want smaller homes in the heart of the city, “not the big McMansion in Brentwood where you drive an hour and a-half to work.
Value systems are changing,” Kenner explains.
Floor plans and home sizes are evolving to keep up with modern lifestyles. There’s no reason to build-in space for a master bedroom sitting area because that’s not where millennials are spending their time. The same is true of dining rooms.
“They want to walk out the door and see their friends at restaurants and bars, not entertain in a formal dining room,” Kenner says.
Smaller houses have another advantage. They have prices that put ownership within reach of young buyers. Kenner expects prices in his small-home development to range from $199,000 to $350,000.
That’s more than the median price of houses throughout the Nashville region, which was $195,000 in March, according to the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors.
In my opinion, what slips through the cracks in this piece is the enduring presence (and in some places the increase) in urban neighborhoods of families with children. In one of my previous discussions with Mr. Kenner I mentioned that I have seen an increase in young couples in Salemtown pushing strollers around. Now, I'm a baby boomer who moved to Salemtown stroller-in-tow 10 years ago and there were small children then too (although, the neighborhoods was more ethnically and generationally diverse than it is now).
I'm concerned that these developers seem to ignore the needs of families, even millennials with children, in the name of marketing to empty-nesters. Likewise, I wonder if they conflate millennials and empty-nesters. On the one hand, they claim that the younger generation wants to live in places around West Park and in the North End. On the other hand, their tiny builds seem to assume that millennials are going to move to bigger suburban house when and if they have children.
Their contradiction begs the question that I have posed to Mr. Kenner repeatedly one-to-one as well as at community meetings: why not build a diverse stock of housing in urban neighborhoods that meets the millennials' preference for smaller houses while also addressing the probability of future family planning with larger offerings, including adequate yards (even common ones)? Higher density need not mean either "tiny" or family-unfriendly. Why not build to demands of both empty-nesters and families? Why not commit to long-term quality of life and retention of neighbors instead of merely maximizing short-term gains?
[On a side note: the last time I spoke with Mr. Kenner, he was still moving ahead with his SP in northern Salemtown called Salemtown Cottages. One of the changes that has occurred is that he bought Aerial Development out of that partnership. Since this is "special plan" zoning, we need to make sure that all of the provisions that the community agreed upon in exchange for MiKen getting its requested rezoning are met].