Thursday, October 13, 2016

High Streets, Main Streets, Cool Streets

Even though we often assume that the term "cool" is subjective, arbitrary, and up to the perception of the individual, Cushman & Wakefield in their recent publication Cool Streets, assert that economists and real estate analysts should be paying even more attention to what is cool, even if it is a moving target

Why is cool, in this sense, a new phenomenon? Technology could be giving the boost. I was listening to a podcast recently that commented how past generations measured cool through movie stars and models, new generations (Millennials and younger) are using social media influencers to gauge cool. Combined with social media geotagging, it is also easy to pick up on hip trending geographic areas.

The report does acknowledge that the spotlighted Cool Streets communities are largely hipster, unconventional embracing, neighborhoods, some are made up of longstanding bohemian and arts enclaves while other up-and-coming areas are driven by changing demographics and preference for urban living. Yes, hip neighborhoods have ebbed and flowed and aren't a new phenomenon; in the past they were mostly driven by intellectual or philosophical movements with niche subcultures, but this new movement of cool streets differs in its mainstream aspirations.

What used to take many decades for neighborhoods to become it places now can take a span of less than a decade. Case and point, Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. But being too cool makes a neighborhood ascend and then crash, or become mainstream way too quickly (again, Williamsburg). There is obviously a negative to crystallizing an area as cool. Many want to quickly seize the opportunity to cash in, but those that made the cool in the first place can head out in search of authenticity and character, which can deplete the charm and hipness. 

Their current top 15 Cool Streets are:

  • Brooklyn / Sunset Park
  • Chicago / Logan Square
  • Cincinnati / Over-the-Rhine
  • Denver / RiNo
  • Los Angeles / Silver Lake
  • Miami / Wynwood
  • Minneapolis / North Loop
  • Phoenix / Roosevelt Row
  • Richmond / Carytown
  • San Diego / East Village
  • San Francisco / Jackson Square
  • St. Louis / Delmar Loop
  • Toronto / West Queen West
  • Vancouver / Mount Pleasant / Main Street
  • Washington D.C. / Shaw

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