In the northern Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, developers are planning to build as many as 6,000 new condominiums and apartments, 10 hotels and 2 million square feet of office space along a one-mile stretch that includes the new corporate headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys.
Three towns to the west, in Flower Mound, city codes require that most homes sit on quarter-acre lots. When a developer two years ago proposed a 750-unit mix of apartments, senior living and townhomes geared toward millennials, dozens of nearby residents, some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “low density,” showed up in council chambers to blast the plan. It eventually was reduced to 97 homes starting at around $450,000—up from the mid-$300,000 range in the original plan.
“We don’t want to look like Frisco,” resident Kelly James said at a meeting last year. “The more high density, the less character this town has.”
The starkly different trajectories of Frisco and Flower Mound, less than 20 miles apart, reflect the profound changes under way in suburban areas across the U.S. A growing body of survey research suggests millennials intend to gravitate to suburbs just like earlier generations did, but that they prefer a higher-density, more walkable version than the cul-de-sac communities of their parents.
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Chris Kirkham is a “reporter at The Wall Street Journal, a native Texan & wannabe native New Orleanian.” This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal on August 26, 2016.