Future of Center City discussion calls for better office design, more attractions

The Philadelphia skyline. (Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital)

The Philadelphia skyline. (Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital)

What does the future hold for Philadelphia’s downtown area? It could mean an expansion of Center City’s residential footprint.

A forum for city business leaders Tuesday morning at the Union League centered around the use of downtown office space and increased residential space. Paul Levy of the Center City District said while office workers aren’t completely returned in full force, the residential population has grown.

“Tourists, conventioneers, and regional shoppers are at 72% of pre-pandemic levels,” Levy said. “Office and other workers are at 57%, but residents are at 126%. There are many more residents living here now than in 2019.”

Levy said many ideas were talked about at the event, including expanding the performance and event areas. Currently, Dilworth Plaza and Sister Cities Plaza hold events such as the Holiday Village. Levy said bringing more events to plazas and office areas could make people feel more secure and increase their desire to come into the office, at least a few days a week.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Linda Pileggi is an office space designer who said redesigning the office space is necessary to bring people back from home offices.

“Give people the rules of the road and understand what the expectations are,” she said. “If I’m on a Zoom call, I might move to a smaller room where it’s just me, and I might only be in there for an hour or two. [If] I’m going to be on a four-hour call. I might move to another space.”

Pileggi admitted to liking her kitchen table over an office in some situations, and said business owners have to make their offices more worker-friendly to bring people out of their homes and back into the office.

Levy added that creating more attractions for people to come into town might be another way to help bring workers back into offices at least part-time.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal