They may be the generation everyone loves to hate, but an influx of millennials into Wilmington’s central business district (aka downtown) is spurring growth and development that the city hasn’t seen before.
That’s according to the latest annual Wilmington Skyline Review, from global real estate group Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
It cited an emergence of the “live/work/play” mentality for downtown and a residential construction boom as the spark of unprecedented development.
“The apartment market is surging in downtown Wilmington,” the report states. “The growth of a millenial workforce population is the primary driver of this (central business district) boom. Apartment occupancy rates in Wilmington’s (central business district) hover around 95 percent, and rental rates are rising.”
It was a busy year apartment-wise for downtown and the Riverfront, and the report says work on an additional 400 units is underway. In 2015, The Buccini/Pollin Group opened The Residences at Harlan Flats on the Riverfront, along with Market Street’s MKT 627 and MKT 608. A 231-unit complex called The Residences at Midtown Park, between 8th, 9th, Orange and Shipley streets, will follow.
Scott Johnson, partner at McConnell Johnson Real Estate and president of Solar Dock, agreed that the residential boom has been a boon for downtown Wilmington.
“We’re hoping to see more developers wanting to come to Wilmington and do residential,” Johnson said.
Before the swath of new apartment complexes arrived, living downtown was generally not an option, he said.
Millenials moving in will help downtown businesses, he said, both as consumers and also as employees working second jobs at places like restaurants and theaters.
The Skyline Review noted that a higher residential population has increased demand for retail and amenities — and the evidence is in new spots like Jimmy John’s and Starbucks.
“We are seeing things we haven’t seen before which is a real positive, and I’m just hoping that that can continue,” Johnson said. “If that momentum can keep going, that course is going to be a big factor of the city moving forward.”