Starting around 1999, Williamsburg began
to see an influx of new residents priced out
of Manhattan. This initial wave consisted of
a mix of creatives, artists, musicians,
hipsters and the LGBT community willing to
take their chances in a neighborhood that
could best be described at that time as
“edgy.” They brought with them a
counterculture philosophy that infused
Williamsburg’s commercial corridors. New
bars, music venues, art galleries and
boutiques catering to their tastes sprang up
in the area. The Cool Street cycle was set in
motion, and Williamsburg’s appeal grew
— as did its rents. Within just a few years,
residential rents in Williamsburg were on
par with top Manhattan apartment rates.
National chain retailers engaged in bidding
wars over prime corner shop space while
quirky independents were priced out.
Hipsters began fleeing to all other points
Brooklyn bemoaning that “Williamsburg
was over.” For the record, we disagree with
that statement. Though it may now be quite
pricey, Williamsburg is still a Cool Street.
But has it gone mainstream? Absolutely.
Cool Street = Millennial Street
Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as
the largest single age demographic in both
the United States (85 million) and Canada
(10 million). While other key demographic
shifts will continue to play out in both
countries, this single factor will do more to
shape the retail landscape over the next few
years than any other trend. The rise of the
Cool Streets is just one of the ways that this
is playing out.
Millennials Are Urban...
At the heart of the Cool Streets trend is the
fact that Millennials consistently
demonstrate a preference for urban living.
According to the Urban Land Institute (ULI),
46% of Millennials would prefer to live in an
urban setting, compared to 24% for
suburban and 30% for rural environments.
Millennials prefer cities, but affordability
is increasingly becoming an issue.
Source: Urban Land Institute: America in 2015: A ULI Survey of Views on Housing, Transportation, and Community, 2015.
Cool Streets Report