With "millennials" and "baby boomers" fleeing the suburbs for the exciting, walkable, lifestyle that comes with big city living, suburbs are increasingly trying to figure out what to do to salvage their population centers and attract young professionals and families back to town. One Michigan suburb fell on hard times in the early 1990s but is now an example for small suburbs to follow to improve their attractiveness and the lives of their citizens.
Enter Birmingham, Michigan, a town of only 20,000 residents but one which fell on hard times when they lost two large department stores and the two local theaters closed down in the early 90's. The city took a hard look at it's problems and decided to brand itself as a "Walkable Community" changing their zoning code, adapting streetscapes to be more pedestrian friendly, building parks and calming traffic to increase the economic vitality of downtown.
Some 3 million square feet of commercial development in 30 new projects came to downtown Birmingham over the next two decades. This has created a beacon for families and millennials alike to move to the quant town just north of Detroit and a successful example of converting an "auto-centric" downtown back to a pedestrian-oriented, economic driver for the town.
SOURCE- Congress For a New Urbanism
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.