Philadelphia has seen a hike in the number of young people coming to the city. Grads from area universities and newbies alike find solace in cheaper rent (compared to New York and D.C.) and are attracted to pluses like the bourgeoning bike scene. In attempt to capitalize on this growing population, one developer is designing a professional space in the city’s post-industrial Spring Garden neighborhood, intended to cater specifically to millennials.
The New York Times reported that the development, dubbed SoNo for its proximity south of Philadelphia’s millennial-happy Northern Liberties neighborhood (and also situated near the historic Old City district), will feature media, advertising, and technology companies, as well as a cafeteria, bike racks, and other common spaces. The developer, Alliance Partners HSP, is also angling the “work-hard-play-hard” appeal to the space, emphasizing that the space is just a short bike ride to a handful of performance venues and bars that have popped up in the area in the last five years.
The project is one in a larger trend toward millennial-luring urban spaces, like the boom in micro-housing.
Despite what the developer may envision as a millennial paradise, it’s unclear whether its execution will truly attract its target demographic, especially considering the projected cost of office rent — in the low $30s per square foot, the Times reported — is comparable to rent in more expensive places in Center City Philadelphia.
Real estate lawyer David M. Scolnic told the Times, “If I were a young person looking for a job I would much rather work in Center City or in West Philadelphia, where there are amenities and places to go at lunch and after work,” he said. “It’s hard to picture this being an attractive option.”
Others envision the section of Spring Garden as the next area to develop more fully in the next few years. Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for economic development, told the Times that development pressure is present elsewhere nearby. “In the next five- or 10-year stretch, you are going to see a lot of redevelopment there,” he said.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.