Young and Old: Both Need Housing To Make Tallahassee Home

May 3, 2016

Credit Ashley Tressel

Tallahassee is struggling with affordable housing, according to current officers like Mayor Andrew Gillum and others. And that's affecting the City’s efforts to attract two highly sought-after groups of people: retirees and young professionals.

Both young professionals and retirees have incentive to live in Tallahassee. New developments built around two universities are providing more entertainment options and the area boasts new job and start up opportunities. But one thing that’s missing? Places to live.

“All across the country, you have kind of a glut of single-family, sprawling, low-density housing. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have very high-density, public housing, or student housing like we see along Gaines Street.”

Deck on Gaines

Lucas Lindsay is the Community Manager at Domi Station, a business incubator. What he sees is a local example of a national phenomenon, called the “missing middle.”

Lucas Lindsay, Community Manager at Domi Station

But what we miss a lot of is kind of that mid-range, 'missing middle' of row homes, town homes, brownstones, maybe it's just two to three stories at most.

  "But what we miss a lot of is kind of that mid-range, ‘missing middle’ of row homes, town homes, brownstones, maybe it’s just two to three stories at most,” Lindsay says.

Townhomes at Savannah Crossing

In other words: something retirees looking to downsize can get into, and what young people may view as a solid first home. But both groups might not be looking for the same thing at the same time. Some retirees in Tallahassee say they want more retirement communities, like Westminster Oaks, but with more affordable prices. And young professionals might want townhomes, but closer to downtown.

“As we get older and it becomes more and more of a burden to be able to take care of our homes, our yards, we’re going to need a place that we can call our own and not have to deal with the daily needs, to deal with one’s house, yard and other things like that.”

George Waas, Retiree

That’s George Waas. He’s a retiree involved with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Florida State University. The program has been a hit with seniors – it’s one of many marketing tools deployed to attract them to Tallahassee.

Dave Bruns, Choose Tallahassee

Dave Bruns is a member of the recruitment group Choose Tallahassee. He says both groups add value, but believes the City would benefit more from focusing on the needs of retirees.

“Millennials are, many times, faced with significant educational debt, they haven’t had a chance to build up a lot of assets and they don’t have a lot of money to spend. The economic impact of attracting people 50 and over in Tallahassee is, logically, gonna be significantly greater,” Bruns says.

But David White of the Network of Young Professionals thinks balance is key. He says young professionals and retirees don’t have to live and play together.

David White, Network of Young Professionals

“I feel that Tallahassee can work toward having a very progressive community where everyone works toward the same goal," White says. "Doesn’t mean they all necessarily have to compete over living in the same spot, but they all want the same thing, they all want to move in the same direction.”

Tallahassee City Commissioners have said they want to take another look at affordable housing in this year’s budget talks.