Millennials moving back to Kansas City, Seattle mulls limiting micro apartments and more

Snapshots of real estate news from around the U.S.
By Brendan O'Connor | October 01, 2014 07:00AM
Kansas City

Kansas City

Kansas City

Young people are flocking to Downtown Kansas City. Since 2000, the Missouri city’s Downtown population has increased by 50 percent, to 20,000. Developers added 6,130 apartments to the area between 2000 and 2012, and residential occupancy is above 95 percent. Several more multimillion-dollar mixed-use residential towers are in the works, both office conversions and new development. The question now is whether business will follow youth into the area, which lost 17,800 workers between 2000 and 2011. While office vacancy rates in the area hover around 23 percent, the New York Times reported that a growing number of creative-industry businesses are gravitating back to the Downtown area from competing submarkets, in part to tap Millennial workers.


Seattle residents are pushing for stricter regulation of micro-apartments, a type of housing that is growing more popular nationwide. The City Council is considering a proposal that would set clearer limits on where such projects could be built and require a 220-square-foot average size for most new units. Pro-development advocates warn the plan would undermine a real estate model that suits the city: The Seattle Times reported that researchers found that, by 2011, singles accounted for more than 40 percent of all households in the city, and there were more single-person households than studio or one-bedroom apartments. Developers, who have completed 22 micro-apartment projects since 2010 and have at least 46 in the works, until now have been building units of around 100 square feet. Proposal opponents say that the rules will lead developers to scrap projects for micro-apartments and build larger units with higher rents.

Simi Valley, California

Chinese developer Landsea Group is planning to invest $1 billion in the U.S. housing market this year. The Nanjing-based company will start with three projects: a 187-unit development of mostly single-family homes in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles; a townhouse development in Dublin, California, a San Francisco suburb, and a condo building in Weehawken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Landsea builds around 12,000 houses per year in mainland China, and also develops in Hong Kong and Germany. It is one of the first Chinese developers to move into the single-family home market. Another, a subsidiary of Wuhan company Fuxing Huiyu Real Estate Co. has launched a few projects along the West Coast, including condos in Orange County, California, to establish a base in the U.S., following in the footsteps of other Chinese-owned companies that have a foothold in the L.A. area.


Four new office buildings could represent the revitalization of Conshohocken as a hub for office workers. Developers hope the old steel town, 15 miles northwest of central Philadelphia, will replace the similarly situated Lower Merion Township, which has run out of room. The proposed buildings, totaling 1.25 million square feet, would house 5,000 new workers in the town of 7,800. Commercial buildings have been gradually added in recent years, but the planned additions reflect a desire by companies to attract employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who do not want a suburban lifestyle. All of the proposed developments are a short walk from two train stations about 35 minutes away from the center of Philadelphia.

Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson and his wife, Lisa, listed their home in Paradise Valley for $25 million. The three-story, 25,000-square-foot home sits on five acres and includes a separate, 1,746-square-foot fitness facility. The property also includes a three-car display garage and an eight-car motor pool.

Hollywood Hills

Meryl Streep sold her 3,700-square-foot Hollywood Hills home to suspended New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for $4.8 million. Streep purchased the four-bedroom, four-bath home, which features a two-story living room with a floor-to-ceiling stone wall and fireplace, early last year for $4.5 million.

Los Angeles

Katie Holmes moved back to Hollywood with daughter Suri Cruise. The actress paid $3.75 million for a 6,200-square-foot, six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home in a gated community. According to TMZ, a confidentiality agreement around the deal penalized anyone who violated it with a $1 million fee.


Reigning WWE world heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar sold his 43-acre estate outside of Minneapolis for $750,000. The property contains a 3,247-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home with a deck as well as two barns and a pond.