Q&A: The Rise of Urbanization

By IvyLee Rosario, Multi-Housing News

Live-work-play environments are becoming a necessity in urban areas to create the all-in-one experience for today’s residents. Gone are the days of living in isolation, as more renters are looking for that community feel to provide them with top amenities, easy access to office, entertainment, dining and green space both in and around their neighborhood. The trend of these “mini cities” is increasing in popularity and Multi-Housing News sat down with Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, CEO of Codina Partners, to discuss this growing trend of urbanization, the company’s newest project Downtown Doral in Miami, the benefits of the live-work-play community and how these developments will affect the future of the multifamily industry.

MHN: Why is the urbanization trend taking over in the industry?

Codina: In its recent trends report, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) found that household formation is expected to increase by 86 percent over the next 10 years and that more than half of those new households will be choosing to rent. The urbanization trend is driven by young workers, working mothers and Millennials who, as they progress through their careers and become a larger part of the executive workforce, are making rental decisions based on cost, proximity to work and proximity to the things they enjoy. In other years, that meant urban living, but today, many urban areas are pricing this new generation out of the market. As a result, communities that provide an urban feel, good education options, walkable amenities and trendy shops and restaurants at the price of the suburbs—or “Surban” areas—are becoming more popular.

MHN: What about this trend is most appealing?

Codina: More than anything, Surban communities like Downtown Doral in South Florida, Reston Town Center in Virginia and Old Town in Pasadena offer their residents a live-work-play-learn environment that mirrors city living, without the high prices, cramped living space and lack of privacy. As this generation continues to focus on more of a work-life blend, Surban communities that make it possible for residents to spend more time with their families and less time in the car will continue to be an appealing option. Surban communities also appeal to the new American Dream. Instead of white picket fences, today’s growing families are looking for communities that provide both the city feel and suburbia’s amenities. Urban elements, mixed with suburban green spaces and amenities, highlight why Surban communities are becoming more attractive for today’s home seekers.

MHN: Where did the idea of Downtown Doral come from?

Codina: In 2003, Doral incorporated and became its own municipality, the City of Doral. At that time, Codina Partners saw an opportunity to acquire 120 acres of contiguous office space in the center of this new city—an opportunity that does not come along every day in Miami Dade County. We instantly saw that, based on its size and location, the decades-old commercial park and greyfield had the potential to become the urban heart of the city. Today, Downtown Doral is a vibrant, booming community that includes 200,000 square feet of carefully curated retail stores and restaurants purposefully free of larger chains; more than 1 million square feet of commercial space; 400,000 square feet of Class A office space; more than 2,840 residential units, an award-wining, A-rated charter elementary school; a city hall and 4.5 acres public green spaces featuring art from world-renowned artists and sculptors.