Arlington

It’s not just avocados that millennials like. They’re also flocking to suburbs.

A new town house is listed as sold at Viridian development in Arlington. Viridian is praised for hitting a number of price points in an Urban Land Institute report
A new town house is listed as sold at Viridian development in Arlington. Viridian is praised for hitting a number of price points in an Urban Land Institute report Star-Telegram archives

Fort Worth may have Sundance Square and the hip urban attractions like the West 7th Street corridor and the Near Southside but suburbs are continuing to exert a strong pull on millennials.

A report titled “Housing the American Suburb” by the Urban Land Institute dispels the notion of suburbs as sleepy places where millennials, born between 1981 and 1997, wouldn’t want to live.

“Fully 85 percent of children ages 18 and younger and, contrary to popular perception and most media attention, three-quarters of 25- to 34-year-olds in the 50 largest metro areas live in the suburbs,” the report said

They’re buying in places like Arlington’s Viridian neighborhood — if they can afford it.

“Since opening in 2012, Viridian has found a way to satisfy various lifestyle segments and price points, despite being situated next to an Arlington city landfill,” the report said. “... As a result of that mitigation strategy, Viridian has established an assortment of housing options, selling townhouses, single-family homes, and estates at prices that are projected to range from $200,000 to more than $1 million. At buildout, Viridian is expected to support 15,000 residents in more than 3,000 homes.”

Arlington Realtor David DeVries lives in Viridian and said the convenience of the neighborhood, which is three miles north of Interstate 30 and equally close to Texas 183, has led to its booming growth.

“I think one of the things about Viridian is it feels like it far away but it’s close to everything,” DeVries said. “It’s a piece of the suburb but it’s more in the middle of everything.”

But DeVries said the booming housing market is likely driving where millennials and everyone else chooses to live.

“If it’s below $300,000, no one is building it,” DeVries said. “A large amount of people are chasing a small amount of inventory. In Tarrant County, everything from Kennedale to North Richland Hills to Grapevine — and good luck finding something below $300,000 in north Arlington, where seven-eight years ago you couldn’t give anything away.”

The booming real estate market on the other side of the Metroplex is also having an influence. With Collin County growth exploding with new companies like Toyota moving in, DeVries said he had one client who started looking in Plano but ended up buying in Dalworthington Gardens.

“The prices over there are unbelievable,” DeVries said. “People don’t have a choice.”

Show me the money

The topic of millennials and homebuying is a trendy topic. Last month, Australian millionaire Tim Gurner told “60 Minutes” that one reason millennials can’t afford to buy homes is that they spend their money on such things as avocado toast, comments that created quite a buzz on social media.

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner said.

Others have suggested it has more to do with simply being too poor to afford a home.

To demographers, the same factors that have always played a role in real estate are still true, said Michael Cline, state demographer for North Carolina and former associate director for Rice University’s the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas.

“I think it is no different than people from other generations,” Cline said. “It is affordability, quality schools (or at least perceptions of quality), amenities, and access to work (many work locations are no longer in the city center).”

Highlights of report

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

▪ In the 50 largest (and most urbanized) metropolitan areas in the United States, suburbs account for 79 percent of the population and 75 percent of adults ages 25 to 35.

▪ Suburban growth has driven recent metropolitan growth. From 2000 to 2015, suburban areas accounted for 91 percent of the population growth and 84 percent of the household growth in the top 50 U.S. metro areas.

▪ Most Americans work in suburbs, although job growth has grown more balanced. As of 2014, 67.5 percent of the employment in the 50 largest metro areas was in the suburbs.

▪ American suburbs as a whole are racially and ethnically diverse. Seventy-six percent of the minority population in the top 50 metro areas lives in the suburbs.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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