Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Center City a commuter magnet - both ways

One in three Center City residents walk to work; one in four heads out to the suburbs; many go all the way to New York

Center City a commuter magnet - both ways


Paul Levy, energetic head of the Center City District, hates it when I call downtown a "bedroom community" where the residential population has been rising a lot faster than office space or corporate employment.

But that only confirms a lot of well-off people like to live in Center City, wherever they work. The district today published an interesting report that shows, among other things:

- A little less than half the working people who live in Center City have jobs there. One-quarter commute out to the suburbs. Most of the rest work elsewhere in Philadelphia - except around wealthy Rittenhouse Square, where nearly one-fifth of the population works in New York or some other "Out of Area" location.

- Around one in three Center City workers walk to their job. Almost as many "reverse commute" by car. About a quarter take Septa or Patco. 6% work at home; 5% bike.

- Philadelphia "is weathering the recession much better than other places," at least partly because we didn't inflate so much:

Philadelphia ranks with energy-rich Dallas and Denver as places where home prices are off less than 10% since the market peaked three years ago. 

By contrast, in the speculative Sun Belt wreckage of Phoenix and Miami and Las Vegas, home prices are down 50% or more. Philadelphia also has lost less than Boston (-15%), New York (-21%) or Washington DC (down 27%, which looks pretty suspicious. They must be counting depressed Baltimore and-or overbuilt Northern Virginia.)

- Of 2,500 units built in "20 Major Condo Projects" in Philadelphia in 2003-10, more than one-third (around 900) are still vacant.

- The district tells us it's gotten tough to find an open apartment among the 39,000 rental in Center City. Though there are nice unsold condos for rent......

- Center City home sales rose to 548 in the first three quarters of the year, up from 438 a year ago; average price rose 2% to $490,000. But unit constructions/conversions have slowed, to just 237 so far this year, from over 1,500 each year in 2006-2008.

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About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

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