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Success Stories

City of Kitchener, Ontario

"The downtown that couldn't attract millennials"



Downtown Kitchener boasted stunning heritage buildings with high retail and residential vacancy rates, limited special events activity and an unattractive perception of 'downtown Kitchener' by residents and visitors.   Meanwhile, a few kilometres up the road, an annual influx of over 50,000 university students studied at Wilfrid Laurier and University of Waterloo.  As millennials migrate to urban centres, given higher priced housing in the suburbs, downtown Kitchener needed to invest and create conditions to attract the best of the millennial population.  



  • Examined cross-generational residential needs and retail interests to develop a council approved Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) at $110M

  • Managed the build and launch of a new Kitchener Farmer’s Market to attract organic loving millennials.  

  • Created incentives for loft and condo living development to meet student and young working adult residential preferences

  • Sponsored street-scaping such as artistic bike racks, and bid on special event programming to attract millennials. 



  • Within 2 years of the investment, the City attracted new millennial focused businesses and institutions to move into downtown Kitchener, including: 

    • University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy,

    • McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine Waterloo Regional Campus

    • Wilfred Laurier Faculty of Social Work

    • The Tannery District (home to The Hub, Google, Desire2 Learn)

    • Kaufman Lofts

  • Attendance at special events and programming downtown doubled from 250,000 in 2004 to half a million in 2012.  

  • The $10-million streetscape investment turned into $50-million worth of private sector investment. with storefront / facade improvements, upper storey residential development, and new restaurants.   (Downtown Kitchener Action Plan, 2012-2016).  

Download an update on Downtown Kitchener!  

"Downtown Kitchener is being embraced by millennials.  But who will follow them?"

The Record,  January 27, 2019

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