Developer: "Surban" trend behind boom in apartment construction downtown

Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-17 22:22:31-04

Are you a "surban?" You could be, and not know it.

"It's a new word, not a sea creature," explained developer Michael Lafferty. It describes a movement transforming downtown Phoenix.

Surban describes those who have traded in suburban living for urban living.

"When I moved out of Mesa, I had two cars, got a job down here, sold both those cars and got everywhere by foot or bicycle for seven years," said Chris Gordon.

Gordon is a surban and he is not alone. 

Lafferty said a lot of suburbans are trading in their cars and the Phoenix traffic for a more relaxed way of living in downtown Phoenix.

"They want lifestyle, they want 'lock and leave' and they want to be able to move at [any] opportunity," said Lafferty in regards to Millennials, but he said Baby Boomers are also joining the movement seeking a younger vibe.

"There's nothing you can't do downtown now, [with the] convention center, restaurants, bars, live bands," said Lafferty.

"I've seen it kind of grow, it's lively we have First Fridays which is a big draw," said Gordon about the surban movement.

"I remember when we first were living here, this was a neighborhood you didn't want to be in at night and downtown shut down at 6 p.m. Now you can find something open at any time of day," said Owen Taylor, who prefers urban living to suburban living.

Lafferty tells ABC15, the draw of downtown caused a boom in apartment construction--with more than 3,500 apartments slated to be built or in the process of being built in downtown Phoenix.

The boom of living units is causing rents to fall flat, but developers like Lafferty aren't worried.

"People will now be able to afford downtown, and we will fill the 3,500 units," he said.

Many developers are sealing the deal with huge incentives, making the current market a renter's dream come true. Lafferty says the most outrageous deal going right now is 3 months free rent.

"Probably every month for the next six months there will be a better [offer], so if I was a shopper for rent in the downtown market I would wait until summer." he suggested.

On top of that, Lafferty says grocers like Fry's slating to build downtown stores has been the last piece of the development puzzle.

"It's a fun place to be and it's constantly growing," said Gordon, who hopes to see the surban movement continue.