A regional look at downtown growth by the real estate firm JLL found Grand Rapids is not alone in its growth or issues caused by the influx of people.

In a report titled “Great Lakes Full Circle,” JLL looked at eight downtowns in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, including Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

Across the Great Lakes region, JLL Research Analyst Harrison West had evidence of a lot of downtown activity, so he wanted to quantify it for potential clients.

“There’s a lot of activity and clients are coming to us saying, ‘I’m hearing about all this activity in downtown Detroit,’” West said. “We want to be able to show them and quantify information into easy-to-read stats and a map of what’s happening.”

To compile the information, West relied heavily on demographic and employment information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Activity was collected through various media reports and JLL brokers on the ground.

West said the movement back to downtowns largely is driven by younger generations of workers desiring a different live-work-play environment than older generations, and companies are recognizing the trend. The JLL report found large-scale private investments focused on residential and mixed-use development. The reuse of formally obsolete properties increases tax bases, allowing cities to reinvest in themselves, resulting in improved mass transit, infrastructure and public space, the report said.

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