“Millennials grew up the back seat of a car,” she said, “and they don’t want that today.”
That indeed was a big issue for the Schloessers, Jaci Schloesser said. She’s from Cambridge, he’s from Eagan, and New Brighton was a series of trips in the car.
In St. Paul, “I’m walking distance to the library, the post office, to the convenience markets with every kind of food we would need … and there are restaurants I can walk to,” she said. “In the burbs we had to drive wherever we wanted to go.”
The changing racial makeup of suburban and city schools also suggests there’s a trading of places.
Minority and immigrant students have replaced tens of thousands of white students who’ve aged out of suburban schools over roughly the past decade. Minneapolis schools are becoming increasingly white, grade by grade, with the youngest children reaching 50-50 parity.
Young immigrant parents, having started oftentimes in grim inner-city surroundings, are delighted to find themselves in spots like Apple Valley.
“I did not feel safe in St. Paul,” said Rosario Ayala, a single mom whose Mexican immigrant family started out near University Avenue. “I’m no racist, but you’d hear gunshots.
“Compared to that, it’s perfect in Apple Valley. I can jump on Cedar for a quick trip to Nickelodeon for New Year’s Eve with my daughter, and in summer, walk to the Minnesota Zoo.”
Even with a big move by immigrants, however, suburbs are rapidly aging.
Eagan, so recently teeming with kids, has now suddenly reached the point, census estimates say, where it has more single-person households than married couples with children.
Suburbs such as Lino Lakes and Mahtomedi are seeing jumps in their median age more pronounced than towns in rural Minnesota that one thinks of as completely abandoned by young people.
‘Not a decline’
To counter the trend, many suburbs are seeking to create walkable downtowns and changing their restrictions to allow for things like brewpubs. But they’re also adjusting to the root fact that their age structure is changing.
Golden Valley, with some of the metro area’s oldest neighborhoods, is regearing its parks this year, said parks and recreation chief Rick Birno. It’s adding fitness equipment in parks on a trial basis for adults out on walks, and it’s starting lawn bowling leagues at the golf course.
At a single corner in Edina, just down the road from a hospital spending millions to expand its capacity for heart attack and stroke patients, a Montessori school has closed and a hearing-aid store has opened.
Beside it, there’s a “fitness after 50” mini-gym for those who would shrink from the “loud blaring music and the Spandex muscle shirts of the big conventional health clubs,” in the words of Welcyon CEO Suzy Boerboom.
Becky Kidd, a club member working out there last week, said her own little neighborhood nearby is remaining fairly child-heavy, as young families drawn to Edina schools come in and tear down smaller, older homes and put bigger ones in their place.