Housing Study: Kansas City Millennials Want Covered Parking, Not Tanning Beds

Kansas City millennials say that amenities like bocce ball courts and tanning beds are nice, but that they’re looking for more practical things.

Developers who are trying to attract millennials with tanning beds and bocce ball courts might want to rethink that approach, according to a new study by a Kansas City real estate marketing firm.

“Bocce ball courts to tanning beds to dog wash stations … the list of amenities is ridiculously long," says Brett Posten with Highline Partners. “Our question was, are they really using the tanning beds?”

Posten and partner Kathryn Jones commissioned the survey after working a client who made a lot of assumptions about what millennials wanted.

“We had a sneaking suspicion that a lot of what gets written about millennials gets written on the coasts, in New York, San Francisco, L.A., Boston,” Posten says. “And those are really urban cities. There are a lot of unique characteristics of those cities that don’t match Kansas City.”

Posten says conventional wisdom says millennials want to live in lofts downtown, but most of the millennials that Highline talked to said they eventually planned to move to the suburbs, just like their parents did. While they enjoyed touring pristine fitness centers with steaming saunas and heated pools, Posten says, millennials put a higher value on open floor plans, in-unit washers and dryers and secure, covered parking.

That’s because Kansas City millennials aren’t actually ditching their cars. Though many said they’d like public transportation to be more reliable, less than 5 percent are car-free.

Posten says he was surprised by how many millennials expressed an interest in moving to the Northland, while Jones says she was surprised by how many millennials plan to retire elsewhere.

“We saw a lot of millennials wanting to move away and to live outside of Kansas City,” she says.

Highline currently is working on Oxford on the Blue, the live-work research village being developed on 325 acres near the Cerner campus. Posten wants to use the study to better market the south Kansas City concept and other such projects to millennials.

“The story we’ve been told about millennials always living and wanting to be downtown isn’t necessarily true for Kansas City millennials,” Posten says.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

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