North America’s 20 Coolest Streets

Cushman & Wakefield's new research report finds that these neighborhoods are growing in secondary and tertiary markets as well as in major metros.
The Epic
The Epic. Image courtesy of Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management

Take a look at the Top 20 Cool Streets in North America compiled by Cushman & Wakefield for a new research report and you might be surprised at some of the cities and neighborhoods on the list. While cool streets remain strong in several major cities and so-called “24-hour” cities such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, there has been growth in secondary and tertiary cities such as Boise, Idaho, Portland, Ore., and Buffalo, N.Y.

In Cool Streets: The Rise of the 18-Hour Cool Street, co-authors Garrick Brown, vice president of retail intelligence, Americas Retail Services, and Pam Flora, director of retail research, Americas Retail Services, note these “upstart” neighborhoods are being driven by persistent urban renewal and a migration of millennial professionals often seeking more affordable housing and a lower cost of living. They expect the trend to continue.

“The drive toward urbanism continues, led by Millennials and empty nesters. But whereas the early trend was initially focused on primary markets like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Manhattan and a handful of secondary markets, it has gained even greater momentum in secondary markets. It’s now even trickling through to tertiary markets—driven primarily by affordability issues,” Brown told Commercial Property Executive. “We have seen the emergence of Cool Street neighborhoods in markets as diverse as Boise, Calgary, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Tampa.”

Many of the areas are neighborhoods in transition, often former industrial areas or defunct commercial districts that are being repurposed with new residential development, retail and nightlife and dining hot spots.

“The rise of these Cool Street neighborhoods has largely been about the redevelopment of former industrial space toward residential—with a few exceptions. That is critical to understand because these neighborhoods aren’t just spawning new retail and entertainment districts, among the favorite sites of rapidly growing clicks-to-bricks concepts, but they are becoming hotbeds of multifamily development and redevelopment as well as emerging office markets and top hospitality destinations,” Brown said.

Rise of Deep Ellum in Dallas

One example is Deep Ellum, a neighborhood located immediately northeast of downtown Dallas that is in a certified Opportunity Zone. The former industrial area became run-down over the years. In the late 1990s, obsolete industrial buildings were being transformed into multifamily and loft apartments and by the mid-2010s, music and entertainment returned and housing development increased. Brown and Flora note the momentum is expected to continue as traditional retail demand is also ticking up.

In August, Uber signed a lease with Westdale Real Estate Investment and Management to take 450,000 square feet at the firm’s 8-acre mixed-use project, The Epic, located at the gateway to the Deep Ellum district. Westdale has been active in Deep Ellum since the early 1990s, acquiring and renovating properties. Uber, which is expected to bring about 3,000 employees to the neighborhood, will initially occupy 168,000 square feet in the existing 251,000-square-foot tower before eventually moving to a newly built 500,000-square-foot tower that will also have about 15,000 square feet of retail space.

Deep Ellum placed 15th on the Top 20 Cool Streets list. Others included are the entire cities of Portland, Austin and Denver, followed by Fulton Market Chicago, downtown Boise, the Arts District in Los Angeles, Downtown Buffalo, the Bowery/Lower East Side of Manhattan, Mile End/Mile-Ex in Montreal, Kaka’ako in Honolulu, Mass Ave Arts District in Indianapolis, South End in Boston, East Market District/NuLu in Louisville, Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta, Midtown/Overton Square in Memphis, Midtown in Sacramento, Ohio City/Tremont in Cleveland, Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee and Lower Westheimer/Montrose in Houston.

The Hip-O-Meter

Numerous other cities and neighborhoods are also included in the 96-page report, broken down by livability factors, retail flavor, demographics, residential rents, retail rents and The Hip-O-Meter—which looks at where survey participants ranked them in the Cool Street cycle. The rankings are Edgy/Cool, Up & Coming, Prime Hipness, Still Cool, Going Mainstream and Gone Mainstream. Cushman & Wakefield surveyed hundreds of its real estate professionals across the U.S. and Canada, including commercial real estate brokers, property managers, appraisers, consultants, research and marketing professionals and executives.

Brown and Flora note it might be easy to dismiss these growing areas as “hipster neighborhoods” or just a fad driven by adventurous Millennials. But they write the new cool streets are about more than just retail, they are at the nexus of numerous trends that are impacting commercial real estate including, the new urbanism, impact of opportunity zones, a tech-driven economy and the rise of an experience-based economy. These formerly industrial and commercially zoned areas offer opportunities for developers to create the live/work/play environments that are popular and trendy but also expected to grow in the future.