A vibrant city center has become the residence of choice for many who chose to live, work, and play downtown. For many years, this lifestyle could only be found in select cities, where downtown activity didn’t stop with the workday.

Now the demand for urban development is rising as city centers become hubs for a walk-to-work, dine in the neighborhood culture.

Cities that were previously active primarily from 9 to 5 are now becoming “18-hour cities,” where there’s life beyond the workday. Second tier cities, like Nashville, Austin, and Denver, have seen a surge in investment and development focused on making the city center attractive for business, retail and residential use, with a diverse mix of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and offices, along with residential options.

The latest Emerging Trends Report from PWC lists the emergence of the 18-hour city as its top trend. According to the report, “no longer is it accepted that only the great coastal cities can be alive around the clock and on weekends. Downtown transformations have combined the key ingredients of housing, retail, dining, and walk-to-work offices to generate urban cores, spurring investment and development and raising the quality of life.”

Increased residential options in urban cores come on the heels of millennial demand for workspaces near city amenities and culture. Content with smaller spaces for work and living, Millennials tend to put a premium on location, looking to live near work, dining, nightlife, and cultural options.

Rolling Mill Hill in Nashville is a good example of the live/work/play neighborhoods that are generating interest in secondary cities. Near downtown Nashville, this area is home to some of the city’s most popular retail, entertainment, and residential options. Urban infill development has been key to this community’s revitalization, most notably with the launch of a mixed-use retail and residential space in a collection of old trolley barns.

The concept of a “third place” is at work here, with local professionals taking meetings in establishments that welcome them to stay for a while. This all-day restaurant concept is the idea behind places like Pinewood Social, which offers everything from coffee to cocktails and bowling to bocce ball. The development has spurred the creation of an adjacent greenway, another attractive feature for the area.

Investment and development in new 18-hour cities is on the rise, as the mix of properties improves occupancy and the resulting vibrancy attracts more investment, both domestic and foreign.

The power and growth of the secondary market can be seen in the PWC rankings, where number 7 Charlotte is ranked ahead of Seattle and Boston, and Nashville, at number 14 beats out Manhattan.

As job growth in these secondary markets continues to be strong, investors see great opportunity for investment at fairly low risk, without the fierce pricing and competition of more traditional core markets.

Image Source: Simon & His Camera, Flickr