There is a tidal wave of change coming in the demographics that affect housing and development in the metro. How it will affect Prairie Village and northeast Johnson County can be a little harder to predict — though certain characteristics of the area suggest it could make out well in the changing landscape.
In the next 30 years, the Kansas City region will add 300,000 new households and there will be demand for almost 400,000 commercial buildings, according to data shared at a Mid-America Regional Council session last week regarding the market for sustainable development. That growth will come with some dramatic population shifts and demands for housing. Households with children will be dropping, minority population will be rising, home ownership will fall and single person households will grow. The number of baby boomers retiring and down-sizing — and moving from home ownership to rental — will be huge.
Because of these trends, more residents would trade smaller lot size for a shorter commute, might trade a single-family home for a rental or townhouse if they could live in a walkable neighborhood and have a shorter commute, and would like access to fixed rail transit. So, by 2040, at least one-third of households will want the option to live in walkable communities with mixed-use development, transit, and urban amenities.
In Prairie Village, city administrator Quinn Bennion points out that the city already has fairly dense lot size — especially north of 79th Street — that would accommodate some of the new urban housing desires. But, Bennion points out, there is little room for redevelopment in Prairie Village and some recent development has already been aimed at senior housing, including the recent redevelopment of the Somerset School site.
Village Vision, the Prairie Village shared vision guide for the future, talks about mixed use development, but it has been hard to get traction in the few spots where it could happen, Bennion noted.
The population shifts show that residents are almost evenly split between people who want typical suburban housing and those who want a lifestyle that allows them to be closer to work, walk to restaurants and appeal to mixed use neighborhoods. The psychographic segments that favor more walkable mixed use communities spread across the Johnson County line into Prairie Village from Kansas City, according to the presenters.
The question that arose several times in the discussion, though, was about the future of public transportation, especially rail, to serve the new demands.