FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA (April 20, 2020) – For more than two decades, through good times and bad, Center City District (CCD) has published an annual State of Center City report on the vitality of downtown. Philadelphia was in its 11th straight year of growth when work started on this year’s report, before the current crisis upended daily life and every aspect of the city’s economy.
We’ve chosen to release the report, because the State of Center City has always depicted marketplace conditions at the end of the prior year. But this report reminds us of the strong fundamentals that will enable Center City to endure, rebound and thrive as this crisis recedes.
State of Center City 2020 is a comprehensive overview of market conditions in Philadelphia at the end of 2019. It provides detailed profiles of the diverse employment sectors that comprise the downtown economy, highlighting strengths and challenges as we entered 2020. It includes information on housing and transportation trends and serves as a report on CCD operations and their impact in the last year.
In the report’s introduction, CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy reflects on two prior economic crises in Philadelphia: during the early 1990s and the 2008 recession. In 1991, when the CCD started, downtown was a 9-to-5 office district and the City was facing insolvency. There was no convention center, a few hotels, a small number of restaurants and the public environment in disarray. Economic recovery was slow, properties with Center City District boundaries collectively lost 26% of their assessed value from 1991 to 1996.
By the onset of the 2008 recession, the city’s economy and land-use had become substantially diversified. This allowed Center City to weather the worst economic downturn in 70 years and quickly resume its economic and population growth.
Greater Center City holds 42% of Philadelphia’s jobs and provides 25% of the employment for residents from across the city. Expanding jobs, sales and construction boosted municipal tax revenues by 39%, from $2.95 billion in 2009 to $4.11 billion in 2019, funding increases in education, housing, social service and other municipal programs. So downtown’s recovery is essential to the well-being of the entire city and region.
Until the impact of the coronavirus epidemic struck locally in March, the upward trajectory continued as the downtown became increasingly diverse, population continued to grow and development was surging.
“Across the country, diverse, live-work and walkable places outperformed auto-dependent districts in the last decade. For the first time in the life of most Americans, cities surpassed the national economy in job growth, vitality and innovation,” Levy said. “These underlying assets, diverse drivers of growth, detailed in each chapter in this year’s State of Center City, are a defining strength of downtown. As this economic winter ends, they will rebound.”
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.