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Strong demand for downtown living fuels growth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The downtown skyline is changing, as construction crews Friday are celebrating the rise of the new Two Light apartment tower.

More than 25,000 Kansas Citians now call downtown home.

Nearly 300 homes in the new tower are part of nearly 3,000 units under construction downtown. And despite rising rents, the Cordish

Companies say demand to be downtown is stronger than ever.

"Anywhere downtown, any apartment community, they are all filling up very quickly," said Marnie Sauls, residential management director for the Cordish Companies. "It’s just the place to be. It’s no longer just a destination. It’s a neighborhood. It’s booming."

And it's not just young, single millennials who want to live downtown. An increasing number of empty nesters like Joy Wheeler are giving up their home-owning responsibilities for a new lifestyle.

With rents averaging less than $1,000 a month for a studio apartment to nearly $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom unit, those who are making downtown their home say they're paying for a lot more than just a place to live.

"I’ve lived in Kansas City my whole life," said Wheeler, who moved downtown in April. "I love urban cores. And I wanted to change up my life. My son is raised, married, moved. And I was just ready to have a total change, from home ownership and yard and gardening and same neighborhood, same people. I just wanted to meet new people and experience a totally different aspect of life."

Nearly $450-million is being invested to build more downtown housing. The area's rebirth is helping attract new businesses to set up shop nearby. And the workers they're bringing in from places like New York or Chicago find downtown living in Kansas City to be a bargain.

Those living downtown say the costs may be a little higher, but they feel like they save money and time not having to drive everywhere. Some say you can't put a price on that.