Alpharetta Must Do What Alpharetta Does Best

“The re-urbanization of Atlanta’s downtown” are the buzz words these days and companies near and far are hearing the siren song.  According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a Perimeter Mall area based fin-tech company – Global Payments – might leave its current OTP location to be close to this urban core. If so, they will join NCR, NAP and others who already have a stake in midtown or close to it.

Perhaps due to the above, the Westside has become the hot, hot place to live if you are single-ish and under the age of 40.  The Westside is adjacent to midtown but west of it and behind Georgia Tech. I head there myself, more or less frequently, to eat at places like Cooks and Soldiers, Yeah Burger, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand and even the back of the back yard Olympic Torch Diner.

Supposedly, these areas are Atlanta’s innovative core.  But I would venture to say, that’s a dressed up way of saying “this is where the Millennials are.”  Just remember, Millennials won’t be single, rootless, and mortgage-less forever.

Where does this leave Alpharetta?  Hopefully, Alpharetta’s politicians, both now and in times past, have planned soundly.  Ideally, this would include not over-building apartments (it’s always better to own than to rent).  And hopefully, some thought has gone into what Alpharetta does best, which is to cater to families.  And Millennials are the families of the future.

In the end, Alpharetta will be what it is; who it is.  Urban hip?  That belongs to “the re-urbanization of Atlanta’s downtown”.  Let midtown and downtown have it.  There are millions of Millennials about to marry and have babies.  They will be wanting what Alpharetta has to give and what it gives best:  safe streets, strong neighborhoods, good schools.  Oh yea, and lightning speed internet connection.


8 Replies to “Alpharetta Must Do What Alpharetta Does Best”

  1. I think you’re expecting Millennials to “settle down” and become some version of their parents or grandparents the way a lot of Gen Xers did. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    Millennials, even older millennials who have already begun to have children and put down roots, don’t want big houses. They watched their parents or family members or friends buy houses as investments and then get saddled with an upside-down mortgage when the housing bubble burst. Many of them are vehemently against consumption and owning things just to own them and prefer small houses, lifetime renting, and minimalism – a clear reversal of what earlier generations drove for.

    Millennials want experiences, not things. If Alpharetta wants to attract more Millennials, then the old “buy a house in the suburbs and fill it with expensive stuff” mindset will have to change. Smaller houses/townhouses at reasonable prices, more single family rental options, more parks, more easy access to the airport, to the mountains, to event venues … those are the things Millennials are looking for.

    They’re not looking to settle into the lifestyle of the Boomers or the GenXers. At all.

  2. KH: I hang out with a lot of young parents (late 20’s) and At the end of the day, once kids happen the magic word is “school district”. I just talked to a young mom who lives downtown and drives all the way to alpharetta for swim lessons and really wants to move here. Another was living in Vinings and moved to johns creek for the school district. I think credit card culture and instant gratification still plagues American youth. Long gone is the “greatest generation” (the parents of baby boomers) who saved and were mortgage free. I don’t think people want to live in a suburb and commute, but if you can live and work in a suburb, that is golden when you have a family and alpharetta’s uniqueness and appeal.

  3. I think Alpharetta is in a great place for the future. We have the schools that all parents want for their kids, we have nice homes in all sizes, and we have a strong business base for jobs. There will be some Millennials that prefer to stay in the city, but I don’t see them shunning the suburbs completely. There will always be people that want a little extra square footage for their dollar when they have two or three kids running around the house. Plus, we have a pretty cool little downtown as long as the city council doesn’t ruin it…

  4. So I think I am one of those “millennials.” I was born in 1984, I am married, full-time jobs for us both, a chunk of student loans for us both, the savings account that is slowly growing, the hope for kids soon, and a strong desire for a safe, fun, 1950’s TV city to live in.

    We (my wife and I) love Alpharetta. We go to church here. We shop here. We eat here. We go to the Farmers Market after meeting our friends for breakfast at Corner Deli. Then we go to whichever consignment shop or little store that we didn’t go to last weekend. I’m lucky enough to work here just off Haynes Bridge. My wife makes the drive to Duluth, but swears we will never live on “that side of the ‘hooch.” We want to buy a house here and raise a family.

    In the 5 years we have been in Alpharetta we have lived 4 years in a 1BR apartment and 1 year in a 3BR apartment. I know…we are some of those people that are thrilled for the opportunity to be able to afford some type of housing in such a great place. We would give anything to find a fixer-upper in old Alpharetta. Something that doesn’t cost us 5x our annual income.

    Avalon was not built for millennials. What is the average age of a resident there? I bet there are more empty-nesters than just married. New construction of homes off Mayfield and Bethany (Bend, Dr, Rd) starting at an “affordable” $4-, 5-, 600,000+ is not geared towards the young families. At least not any of the people I know.

    I don’t really have an answer which direction Alpharetta should go or who is the right fit to live here. I do know that if you can find a small detached home with a yard that doesn’t cost +$250K then you have found a jewel and you should come back here to tell me about it 🙂 Or at least talk to that young mom who drives here for swimming lessons. Either of us would make great neighbors and we would love this city as much as you do.

    Psst *whispers* some of us already do!

  5. As long as there are “investors” (read scallywags) that snap up every single affordable property that goes on the market before you can put in an offer, with deep cash pockets and quick closing opportunity, then slaps a little paint on it and throws in some builders grade carpet and cheap linoleum wood look flooring, then puts it back on the market for more than we can afford to buy, then we who are looking for reasonably priced housing will never find it here.

  6. As one of these “millennials” who grew up in Alpharetta but has lived in other parts of the metro, I believe that Alpharetta can continue to be a great place for families but so much more also. I truly believe that Alpharetta can gain density not for the sake of density but for increased walkability and bike safety, I believe having a more pedestrian feel to the streets can lead to greater community. We already see places like Avalon, canton street in Roswell and others are extremely popular we just need more spaces like these.

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