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Riis Christensen: The Dallas Millennial—A Yo-Yoing Dumbbell?

Now before a feisty bunch of you Millennial kiddos (born between 1982 and 2004) start writing me nasty grams and going all postal on me because of this blog title, hang in there with me for a few minutes until you read my premise.
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Riis Christensen
Riis Christensen

Now before a feisty bunch of you Millennial kiddos (born between 1982 and 2004) start writing me nasty grams and going all postal on me (no gyrocopter landings on my lawn, please) because of this blog title, hang in there with me for a few minutes until you read my premise. Then you can go ahead and toilet paper my house and key my SUV. But as a youngster myself (although only compared to my fellow Baby Boomers), I have a unique perspective on you gained from noting your migration patterns in Dallas-Fort Worth since the very first of you hatched.

Over the past the decades, I have represented a multitude of office users that have followed a somewhat predictable pattern. First, it was users that wanted to get out of the central business district and Non-Uptown (it was Oak Lawn/Turtle Creek back then) and pop up to Preston Center or LBJ. In the ’80s and early ’90s, the LBJ Corridor was the second-largest office market outside of downtown.

After doing a lot of renewals and new deals with people moving into that market, I noted that the “head north” migration pattern continued with my clients and gained steam through the later ’90s and the early Millennium. The Quorum, Tollway/Platinum Corridor and Legacy all picked up a fresh big batch of new tenants. A few stalwart pioneers even crossed State Highway 190 to hang at the “way-out” Hall Office Park. The amount of single and multi-tenant space from LBJ north along the Tollway soon eclipsed the CBD’s 36 million feet. And now, we have the $5 billion dollar mile in Frisco and development pushing ever father north, so that the Tollway to Texoma may become a reality in my lifetime.

By and large, most of these tenants moved north to attract workers, to cut commutes for themselves (primary reason!) and their employees, and to get access to affordable housing and good school systems in the growing suburbs of Plano, Frisco, Allen, Mckinney, etc. These folks would put down roots in these communities by buying a house, squirting out a few more kids, joining the PTA, getting involved in a local church, going to a few thousand kids’ sporting events, paying for kids’ college, working a few more years, and finally, retiring, picking up their gold watches, then kicking the bucket. (I just stopped by your inbox today to encourage you.)

But over the past five to 10 years, a new trend has emerged with you, Millennial. You very well may be a yo-yoing dumbbell and not even realize it! I’ve watched bunches of you young, eager college graduates hang out with mom and dad in the northern ’burbs for a while until you could scratch up enough cash to move out and get an apartment. But did you go north like everybody else? Noooooooo! You went down to Uptown to hang out with all the cool kids. (And also because Uptown is the place where employers are largely targeting the 25- to 35-year-old demographic.)

And then, after a few years of excessive partying with your buddies and accompanying giant Visa bar tabs, severe memory loss, and maybe a liver transplant or two, you fell hopelessly in love and got married. And quicker than you can say “bun in the oven,” you were thinking about affordable housing and good school systems. In Uptown? No. In the Park Cities? Nope. In Preston Hollow? No sir.

Many of you yo-yoed back up the Tollway from whence you came and re-inhabited Plano, Frisco, Allen, and McKinney, reproduced again, are members in good standing of the PTA and attending thousands of kids’ sporting events. (Employers up north generally seem to be courting the 35- to 45-year-old crowd).

So while you traverse the “dumbbell” created from the blob of Legacy down the handle of the Tollway to the blob of Uptown, and back up again, you have completed one yo-yo cycle. Congratulations! I’ve even seen a few of you yo-yoing back down inside of LBJ to Preston Hollow and the Park Cities.

When you jettison those 2.2 kids and go empty nest, will you yo-yo back down to Uptown and the Blue Ciels of high-rise living? Only time will tell. And by then, I’ll probably have a gold watch clutched in my cold, dead hands, and you can blog about demographics—assuming you aren’t too busy partying on McKinney with your fellow geriatric yo-yoing dumbbells.

Riis Christensen has a Ph.D. in his garage and is a semi-professional demographer. He founded Transwestern’s office tenant representation practice in 1999. Contact him at [email protected]

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