Inventing what Millennials want downtown: housing the urban generation in low-density metropolitan regions

Deirdre Pfeiffer, Genevieve Pearthree, Meagan Ehlenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Evidence is growing that a large subset of U.S. Millennials prefers to live in walkable communities near amenities. Yet, we know relatively little about how developers are translating Millennial preferences into “sticks and bricks.” This research helps fill the gap by exploring how real estate developers are cementing Millennial preferences into housing developments located downtown in the low-density metropolitan regions of Phoenix and Houston. Using data from the U.S. Census, regional media, and expert interviews, we find that developers perceive Millennials as needing housing that is authentic, flexible, socially conscious, and provides an inside/out, constantly connected lifestyle. These developers have incorporated these perceptions into new downtown projects through innovative building design and site selection, which has generated more urban housing options in the Phoenix and Houston regions, while also raising concerns about regulatory threats, Millennials’ ability (and desire) to age in place, and social equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Urbanism
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • downtown development
  • housing preferences
  • infill development
  • Millennials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies

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