Pittsburgh boom continues with nearly $4B in projects
- Downtown Pittsburgh is in the middle of a multibillion-dollar building boom with $3.9 billion of projects either underway or in the planning stage, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Currently under construction are 28 projects worth approximately $1 billion.
- The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's 2018 State of Downtown Pittsburgh report revealed that in addition to the almost $4 billion in active or planned projects, $4.6 billion of new construction has been completed since 2008. The number of building permits issued for the city's greater downtown rose 91% in 2017 to 551 from 2016's 288, and the dollar value of last year's permits was $374 million, an increase of 72% from 2016. When limited to the downtown core only, there were 348 new building permits issued last year. Retail, hotels, residential, office, coworking space and educational projects are all part of the uptick in construction activity.
- Although hotel occupancy rates are down slightly, the demand for downtown housing is growing. The number of greater downtown residents has more than tripled since 2000 and doubled in the downtown core. Approximately 4,100 residential units are either under construction or in development in and around downtown.
Every so often, researchers will predict a population shift to suburbia, and a recent Brookings Institution report backs that up to some degree. In an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from 2011 to 2017, Brookings found that pre-Great Recession trends have once again taken hold and that there have been increased moves to the suburbs, rural areas and a shift from the snowy north to the sunny south. People are also favoring small and mid-size metros over large cities. Brookings surmised that the shift was at least partially a result of an improving economy, which means Americans can better afford homes, including millennials who are starting families and want to do so in areas outside of an urban environment.
But suburbia is different these days, with many choosing to include the convenience features of big cities in their new developments. These "surban" areas, according to Reonomy, have – or will have – access to transportation, unique retail options, higher education and community amenities like parks and regular cultural events, all within walking distance from residences.
So, while the trend may indicate that people are leaving cities behind, in some ways it could be seen that they are bringing them along.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter