Defying downturn

    Things are looking up in Center City, according to a new reporting indictating a strong residential market in the district.

    The report, “Residential Development 2010: Diversification Pays Dividends,” was released today by the Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation.

    In the report, CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy highlighted several key elements that have kept the district from feeling the full effects of the recession.

    “The market has slowed, but the market is not dead,” Levy said of the district. “The market has adjusted.”

    The report focused on the four ZIP codes that comprise the core Center City District — 19102, 19103, 19106, 19107 — and the four surrounding ZIPs impacted by the core’s development: 19123, 19130, 19146, 19147.

    While the district has not been immune to the recession of the last two years, Center City’s real estate market has not been nearly as impacted by the downturn as the rest of the region and the nation.

    “We’re a post-industrial city,” Levy said. The jobs that left other cities across the nation feeling the brunt of the crumbling economy left our area long ago. The eds and meds culture in Center City and its immediate neighbors have kept the district afloat.

    And because there are jobs in these sectors, there is a need for housing.

    According to the report, although nearly a quarter of all employed residents living between Girard and Washington avenues commute to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs for work, 40 percent of employed residents in that area work in the CCD.Levy says things like introducing more L-shaped routes into SEPTA’s schedule are actionable steps for increasing the Center City workforce. Residents in the four surrounding ZIP codes could travel east and west using public transit, not just north and south, allowing for an easier commute to the CCD.

    As the report reflects, Levy said he is hopeful the Center City District can become even stronger.

    “This is the first major recession where the city has done better than the nation,” he said.

    The report attributes this to CCD’s abundance of healthcare and education jobs, mixed use land and walkability.

    Said Levy, “We are no longer a nine-to-five downtown.”

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