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​​​​​​​Urbanization. It’s a massive trend.

For the first time since 2007, urban dwellers outnumber rural dwellers, and the country-to-city trend is picking up the pace. More than 54% of the world’s population now live in urban areas and global demographic estimates suggest that more than one million people move into cities every week.

Such a huge demographic shift causes obvious infrastructure headaches for urban planners and municipalities. But it can also have positive impacts. In the U.S., the urban population shift is helping revitalize and reinvent formerly dilapidated outskirts of many cities. The fringe locations of these former “ghost towns” are assets, offering a wider range of uses than the 9-to-5 coffee shops and office buildings found in many city centers.

And this trend is happening in markets from coast to coast, not just in major cities.​​ Here are the 13 hottest fringe markets we’re watching:​


South End

The revitalization of Charlotte's South End is more about reinvention than a rebirth. Like most fringe markets, the South End is a former industrial district that has embraced the live-work-play trend. With it have come restaurants, arts and cultural additions for residents and employees alike to enjoy.​


Fulton Market​

Once only known as the home for Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios, Fulton Market's burgeoning arts, culture and food scene has quietly transformed the district. The submarket's considered one of Chicago's premier locations, led by several recent high profile developments that continue to bolster its reputation.​


Warehouse District

Spurred by a state tax credit program to fund restoration and preservation of Victorian-like facades, developers are moving in to replicate recent successes. One of those was the Western Reserve Building which underwent renovations to accommodate a new office wing.​​​​


Short North

A formerly suspect industrial area between Ohio State's campus and downtown has emerged as Columbus' creative neighborhood and a prominent retail corridor. It's complete with art galleries, trendy restaurants and vibrant nightlife that reflect submarket's changing landscape.​


RiNo Arts District

Denver's River North Arts District (RiNo) is flourishing with special tax districts and a thriving arts and culinary community helping to spark its revival. Already home to a 25,000+ square foot specialty food market, the area will soon add a 100-room boutique hotel and at least one upscale residential community.​​​

​​Los Angeles​​​​

Downtown Arts District

With tenant interest returning to downtown, it was only a matter of time before this industrial zone on the edge of Los Angeles attracted attention. Already one of the most unique fringe markets in the country, developers are making major plays for office and multifamily development. 


Wynwood/Midtown/Design District​

A few miles from Miami Beach is an emerging chain of vibrant micromarkets. Spanning from the southeast corner of Buena Vista to Wynwood in the south, these areas are gathering momentum as office tenants eye the city's new cultural nexus.​


North Loop & Warehouse District

The hotspot for live-work-play in the Twin Cities, employees and residents alike have flocked to these two adjacent submarkets. Collectively, they offer one of the greatest densities of tech talent in the Midwest. Nearly 100 technology companies occupy over 830,000 square feet in these submarkets, equating to one fifth of the total Minneapolis office inventory.​



Uptown is culturally diverse, artistic, and harbors an entrepreneurial spirit unique to the city. This formerly quiet commercial neighborhood has witnessed a renewed emphasis on residential development in the last few years, making it a true live-work-play environment.​​​


​​​​​Strip District​

Once the economic center of Pittsburgh, this artsy, culinary neighborhood northeast of downtown is emerging as a commercial and residential hot spot. Previously home to titans of industry such as U.S. Steel, ​Alcoa, Westinghouse and Heinz, new tenants like Bosch and Burns White have brough​t their operations to the riverfront area.​​​


Close In Eastside

Portland's original Meatpacking District has transformed into a hotbed of creative activity with robust demand and exceptional rent growth. Rich in history, the Close In Eastside has a solid inventory of multi-story industrial buildings. They meet the aesthetic in demand from start-ups, creative and tech companies: high ceilings, exposed wood beams and heaps of character.​


Downtown Durham

Durham is nearly unrecognizable from its tobacco and textile past. Vacant industrial factories and warehouses have been replaced by creative collaboration and coworking spaces that support tech startups. The city’s emerging innovation cluster is also backed by nearby Duke University, itself an anchor to North Carolina’s larger Research Triangle Park.​


Shockoe Bottom & Scotts Addition​

Renewed interest in Shockoe Bottom—Richmond's pre-Civil War warehousing and trade district—spurred by tax incentives has developers repurposing the area. Low-cost historic buildings are being transformed into hip alternatives to downtown Richmond's traditional stock.​​​​​

In summary

Across the country, an urban population shift is helping revitalize and reinvent formerly dilapidated outskirts of many cities. The fringe locations of these former “ghost towns” are assets, offering a wider range of uses than the 9-to-5 coffee shops and office buildings found in many city centers.