With the opening of Milago, the Shore, and 360 over the last year or two, a few more kids have moved into downtown condos with their parents. This is great news for downtown diversity, given that — amazingly enough — almost no kids lived downtown prior to the recent wave of development.
In fact, the 2000 Census numbers are shocking in this regard. According to the government, 3,713 of 3,855 downtown residents (zip code 78701)in 2000 were adults 18 or over. That means that only 142 children representing 3.7% of the population lived downtown. Of this group, 46 were under 5 and the remaining 96 were between 6 and 17.
With only 3.7% of the population under 18, downtown Austin looks very different than the rest of the city where 22.5% of the population is under 18 and also very different from the U.S. at large where 25.7% of the population is under 18.
Why so few kids? There are a few reasons:
– Obviously, families with kids are avoiding living downtown. Downtown demographics show that a very large percentage of the downtown population is under 30 or over 50, and the average household size is an unusually low 1.49 — significantly below the average family size of 2.59 in New York City. There are many singles downtown, and not that many married couples.
– Large apartments and condos are very expensive. For families who want 3 or more bedrooms, prices start well over $500k.
– The downtown schools are not as good as the top Austin suburban schools – especially in areas of the city with home prices as high as those downtown.
– There are limited amenities for children. Other than the Dell Children’s Museum and a playground at Whole Foods, the lack of kids downtown has meant a lack of parks and playgrounds for kids. For families who want other kids on the block, the lack of kids downtown discourages other families with kids from moving downtown.
As downtown evolves and the population grows, hopefully downtown will become more inclusive of families and children. Otherwise, the downtown population will inevitably be transatory, as young single marry and move back to the suburbs.