According to the ‘State of Center City’ report published in 2018 by the Center City District (CCD) in conjunction with Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) and Center City District Foundation (CCDF), there has never been a better time to live, work or play in Center City, Philadelphia.
Arts, Culture, and Entertainment
Tourists are flocking to Center City to enjoy its art and cultural scene; in fact, more than 10 million people have visited Avenue of the Arts, Independence National Historical Park, and numerous other downtown locations. All in all, Center City boasts 243 attractions, including museums, theaters, dance companies, music venues, and art galleries. Live music is readily available, with 20 venues to choose from, both indoor and outdoor. This industry also drives employment, with almost 13,000 employees.
Philadelphia is home to the country’s largest public art program, Mural Arts Philadelphia, which reports 12,000 people visit art hubs around the city each year.
For the past 20 years, Center City has made a great effort to diversify retail development. More than 300,000 employees, 190,000 residents, and 3.3 million occupied hotel room nights are responsible for creating over $1 billion in retail revenue. With a bright mix of boutiques, independent shops, and national retailers, Center City is quickly becoming a shopping destination within the region.
Retail occupancy is holding steady at 95.5 percent, compared to a 10 percent vacancy rate nationwide. Over two million square feet of retail space is being developed to meet the demand from shoppers both local and visiting. Center City East is investing $815 million in a revamp of its retail areas, which will contribute to the shopping and dining experience along Independence Mall to the City Hall and convention center areas.
Center City has an extensive transportation system, allowing residents to move freely, and for those outside of the area to easily get there. Thirteen rail lines, three rapid transit lines, five trolley lines, and 29 bus routes serve 309,000 riders each weekday. This transit system also provides the opportunity for the one million residents surrounding Philadelphia easy access to the city proper.
The transportation system of Center City is integral to keeping the city moving, especially considering that the city has the highest concentration of residents who do not use a car to get to work. Despite that, congestion has increased in the streets of Center City, due to curbside delivery services, rideshare programs, and road and building construction. However, the city is working to better manage downtown traffic congestion.
Urban residents around the country have urged their communities to develop a walkable, livable, diverse, and lively neighborhood; Center City is answering that call. Approximately 190,000 people live in Center City, driven mainly by a growing millennial (40 percent) population. There are many amazing luxury apartments for rent in Center City, including several new developments from Post Brothers. Closely following millennials are empty nesters, people over the age of 60 who seek high-end housing. While Center City does not have as many families as other Philadelphia neighborhoods, there has been a baby boom in recent years, with 41 percent more newborns born in Greater Center City in 2017 than in 2000.
2017 saw the completion of 13 major developments, equaling $1.2 billion. By December 2017, an additional 35 projects were started and another 21 were in the planning phase. Over half of these 2017 projects were residential related, either totally residential or mixed-use. Other projects include seven hospitality developments, six commercial or mixed-use projects, four public space improvements, also including retail, healthcare, education, and cultural developments.
The largest project is the Comcast Technology Center, totaling $1.5 billion and it is the biggest project in the city’s history. Six new hotels are under construction to meet the tourism demand, and 1.6 million square feet of retail space was added in 2017.
While there’s always more to be done, Center City has proven itself to be a stronghold in Philadelphia for retail, tourism, businesses, and, most importantly, its people that will benefit generations to come.