Linda K. Harris
Report Notes Impressive Growth in Center City;
Highlights Challenges to be Resolved
PHILADELPHIA (April 28, 2016) – Philadelphia’s largest employment center and fastest growing residential section is showing unprecedented signs of growth and new investment, according to the newly released State of Center City, 2016, produced by the Center City District (CCD) and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC). A companion report, released at the same time, documents 42 projects of all types under construction at the end of December 2015, totaling $5.2 billion in new investment.
Greater Center City, the 7.7 square miles between Girard Avenue and Tasker Street, river to river, comprises only 6% of Philadelphia’s total land area, but holds 42% of Philadelphia’s 684,500 jobs, and attracted 25% of all new in-movers to Philadelphia since 2010, fueling an acceleration of downtown housing production. Since 2000, Center City’s population grew by 17% to 184,998, led by millennials and empty-nesters.
Workers, residents and visitors are attracted to a thriving, mixed-use, live-work environment that includes 40.4 million square feet of office space, 11 major colleges and universities, five healthcare institutions, 11,119 hotel rooms, 1,017 retailers, 426 arts and cultural organizations, 440 full-service restaurants, and 365 outdoor cafés offering more than 5,200 sidewalk seats.
As the CCD observes its 25th anniversary and CPDC its 60th in 2016, the new report serves to document the many positive changes that have transformed the downtown: rising office occupancy rates from 86.7% in 2014 to 88.5% in 2015, with suburban and out-of-market tenants accounting for 23% of newly leased space; dramatic attendance growth in 2015 at the Liberty Bell (23%), Franklin Institute (18%), Philadelphia Museum of Art (17%), African American Museum in Philadelphia (10%), and the Kimmel Center (25%); a 98% increase in hotel room supply from 5,613 in 1993 to 11,119 in 2015, and the highest hotel occupancy rate (76.7%) in recent history.
Since 1990, Greater Center City has been transformed from a 9-to-5 office district into a thriving, mixed-use setting for business, innovation, education, cultural and civic activity, as well as one of the fastest growing residential locations in the region. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of downtown residents have a bachelor's degree (BA) or a higher degree; 40% are between the ages 20 and 34.
Using colorful graphics and high-quality photographs, the annual State of Center City report highlights Center City’s extraordinary strengths and provides detailed information about all aspects of the downtown marketplace, combining data from many diverse industry reports with an exceptional range of original research, analysis and survey work. But it is also a candid look at what Philadelphia can and must do better to thrive with an expanding economy that can provide more employment opportunities.
Education and health services, Philadelphia’s largest employment sectors, are up by 50.5% citywide since 1990; leisure and hospitality is up 51.2%, but office-using industries like professional and business services, finance, real estate and communications are down 23% in the last 25 years.
The companion Developments report provides details on 11 major projects, totaling almost $200 million that were completed in 2015 between Fairmount and Washington Avenues, river to river, and provides summaries on another 42 projects of all types, totaling $5.2 billion in new investment that are currently under construction.
The 73-page State of Center City, 2016, and the accompanying 45-page Center City Philadelphia Developments, 2015–2019, shows just how far Center City has come, highlights unresolved challenges and notes ways the city can continue to take advantage of the strong, national trends favoring large urban centers.
The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org and on Facebook and Twitter.
The Central Philadelphia Development Corporation is a membership organization of more than 100 leading businesses with a stake in the future of Center City and the region. Its purpose is to strengthen the vitality and competitiveness of Center City Philadelphia as the vibrant 24–hour hub of the Greater Philadelphia region, through planning, research and advocacy.