State of Center City 2020 is a comprehensive overview of market conditions downtown at the end of 2019, before the impact of the current crisis. It provides detailed profiles of the diverse sectors that drove 10 straight years of employment growth, highlighting strengths and challenges as we entered 2020. It includes information on housing and transportation trends, serves as a report on CCD operations and their impact. It provides a benchmark as we plan for recovery.
In the report’s introduction, CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy reflects on two prior economic crises in Philadelphia, as well as the impact of 9/11. 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, just one high-rise condo, a small number of restaurants and the public environment in disarray. CCD focused first on clean and safe, but economic recovery was slow: properties within CCD 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 substantially diversified. This enabled 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.