Millennials often get a bad rap. Sometimes, it’s warranted. But like any generation before them, they are simply trying to find their way in a confusing and chaotic world.
And, like any generation before them, they have a different way of doing it and a different view of what’s important when it comes to building a life.
When Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. told The Herald Bulletin that millennials could be the key to revitalizing downtown, many scoffed at the idea. What could possibly bring anyone, let alone a millennial, downtown?
Well, the opening of the Oakley Brothers Brewery and Distillery in September will be particularly attractive to millennials. So will the revitalization of the State Theatre on Meridian Street and the restoration of the historic Delaware Court Apartments.
Millennials are particularly interested in low-cost transit and being able to walk or bike to their destination. The new bus terminal will go a long way in fulfilling that need.
It’s just a start, and there’s a lot of work to do to make downtown a destination for millennials — and Anderson’s many other residents.
Millennials want more things to do and experience. They want to be entertained. And the empty and rundown buildings downtown are a major turnoff.
A little bit of innovation elsewhere has proved this type of revitalization is possible.
It wasn’t all that long ago that both Muncie and Kokomo had stagnant downtowns. But efforts in both cities with young people in mind have turned those areas around. Restaurants, pubs and bars draw them in. Entertainment venues, shops, better public transportation and affordable, unique housing opportunities keep them coming back.
A spark of innovation is needed to make downtown a place where people want to gather and live — and millennials, or at least a focus on their needs and desires, could provide it. The Broderick administration should continue to work as a go-between with developers and owners of downtown properties, as well as offer incentives like tax abatements, to transform the heart of the city.
In the end, what’s good for millennials is good for the rest of the population. Perhaps a creative, inspiring and thriving downtown can be their legacy.