Housing above stores has been debated in downtown revitalization with strong opinions on each side. Many thought the additional congestion and even having a few low rent or unkempt apartments wasn’t healthy for overall revitalization. Others maintained that downtown apartments and condos in good condition attract educated, white-collar workers and entrepreneurs in the important 18 to 35 age bracket.
As more young people on their way up migrate to gentrified downtowns, mainstream thinking about Main Streets has clearly shifted to supporting the “retail follows rooftops” theory: The residents above become the customers in the district below.
VDID/Main Street Vineland is moving on a journey forward toward that goal.
This trend does bring pressure on property owners to not only maintain their property well, but also upgrade it to make the whole community attractive to the Millennial and Gen X demographics. With this goal comes notice to property owners to upgrade their housing units to make them attractive to these new prospects. It also comes with incentives that are currently being explored by VDID – partnerships, grants, and others means – which help fund housing improvements on the Ave.
Statistics from National Main Street show each upper-floor apartment rented increases spending by $9,000 per year in the downtown.
There’s more, according to VDID’s Russell Swanson.
”Upper-floor housing typically increases property values by at least 50 percent, increasing the value for the property owner as well as increasing property taxes for the City,” he said.
“We, in Main Street Vineland, have a major priority on establishing partnerships with organizations that will result in incentives for property owners to create the kind of second- and third-floor housing that will attract these target populations,” Swanson concluded.