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October 6, 2009

Wall Street Journal Weighs in on The Next Hot Youth-Magnet Cities

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Recession schmession!  The Wall Street Journal is already weighing in on its picks for the The Next Hot Youth-Magnet Cities.  Once the recession cools off, where are kids going to live?  What amenities, jobs and lifestyle choices are 20-somethings going to be looking for?  Washington, D.C. and Seattle claim the top spots for the trend towards government and tech-related jobs combined with strong cultural and active living attractions.  Also making the list are New York City, Portland, Austin, TX, San Jose, CA, Denver, Durham, NC, Dallas, Chicago and Boston.  And what do the majority of these cities have in common?  Strong mass transit systems.  In fact, shots of local transit is featured in for two of the cities (Portland and Denver) and featured in Portland’s description.  Today’s young professional tend to value active urban living that includes common spaces, public transit, access to outdoor activities and cultural centers, even in the face of high unemployment.

It has been my personal experience that young people tend to gravitate towards active lifestyles that include walking, biking and taking public transit, even in more auto-centric cities like St. Louis.  Do you agree with this assessment?  Do you think it will last?  What can St. Louis do to attract more young professionals in the coming decade?

5 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal Weighs in on The Next Hot Youth-Magnet Cities”

  1. GetReal says:

    True and that is why the Lou is not on the list. Let me know when Baer eats his own cooking. The young see the truth, Metro is all for supporting motorized travel and garages for cars, not sustainable alternatives. Does Baer ride Metro, walk or cycle to work? But it’s not just Metro, the dominate features of the region are highways, divided government, and inept advocacy groups. MoDOT to manage Forest Park is the long term solution in the Lou? Get real.

  2. Brian S. says:

    Did they really need to assemble a panel to determine that Austin, Portland, Seattle, etc. are cool cities. With the exception of San Jose, I could have rattled off that list without even clicking on the link.

    Sorry for the rant. I totally agree with your assessment. Improving our public transit and making STL more walkable/bikable will go a long way toward helping us keep young people here and attract them from elsewhere. Closely related to this is a strong, thriving downtown. We need businesses to locate downtown instead of in the burbs to give downtown the vibrant energy that attracts people of all ages.

  3. kelly says:

    Too many special interest groups and inept advocacy groups is right on! Citizens for Modern Transit pushes their light rail agenda, almost to the exclusion of everything else, refusing to work with Metro. I believe that’s changing now, though. BRT is the future of public transportation because of the cost and flexibility, but when you’ve got groups like CMT this kind of stonewalling keeps St. Louis in the dark ages.

  4. RTBones says:

    I agree with most of what has been said here — except possibly BRT being the future of public transit. While I can certainly see applications of it, I dont think it does you any good unless its integrated into a system that includes some sort of rail (light, heavy, streetcar/trolley, whatever). It is, after all, just a BUS. A nice bus, granted, but a BUS nonetheless. You’ll get BRT at ~75% of the cost of a lightrail (assuming you give BRT its own ROW), and you might pick up 30% of the riders that a train would. Again, not saying there arent applications for it, I just dont see it as the future of public transit.

    The city needs to be walkable and bikeable. You need to be able to get around. You need to feel safe. We need businesses to go downtown instead of out into the surrounding counties. We need to somehow get out of the mindset that “you go downtown for a ballgame/hockeygame/event and then go home.” We need to fix city schools. Oh yeah, and we need to convince both the city and surrounding counties that its good for EVERYBODY if they work together.

  5. Jimmy Z says:

    Like the article says, it’s more about where the jobs are. We may not have great transit, but we do have both affordable housing and cheap places to build a business. The real challenge is with the “cool” factor – if you’re not on a non-local’s radar, how do you even get considered? As a non-native, I only ended up here because my wife is from here, otherwise, St. Louis was just another midwestern city on I-70. And I’m not alone – outside the region, the biggest thing St. Louis is known for is the Arch, and that’s not a huge incentive to move here . . .

    As for making Metro “better”, I see three major issues, all interrelated – one, is a public perception that it’s mostly for “other” (poor, minority) people, not for most suburban residents. Two, it’s gonna take money, ideally a dedicated funding stream (probably a sales tax). Denver Dallas and Portland all run on a full 1% sales tax, four times what Metro tries to make work here. And three, Metro needs to be viewed as a system, not as separate light rail AND bus systems. Sure, because of #1, some (too many?) locals will “never” ride the bus. But having to pay to transfer and/or getting a discount for a direct bus trip are also disincentives to viewing the system as a system.

    In reality, once you get past the fixable perception and funding issues, IF the system offers frequent service on clean and safe vehicles, it will attract more riders and more funding; the bus/train divide will lessen significantly. Get past the idea of charging for transfers – give potential riders more reasons to choose transit, not another excuse not to. Metro gets a lot of riders from Wash U and BJC because just their transit costs are perceived to be free (through subsidized monthly passes) – expand that to other user groups, especially in downtown St. Louis and downtown Clayton – build on the existing infrastructure. And finally, bring back the special services that used to make transit an option for for Rams, Cards and Blues games – these are the swing voters that ride infrequently, but can make or break any potential tax increase.

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