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If You Build It, They Will Keep Coming: More Units On The Way As Downtown Residency Rises

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Walkers take refuge under awnings and umbrellas during a brief spring shower in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

The resident population of greater Downtown Pittsburgh grew by 3,000 between 2010 and 2017, according to a new report from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. The Golden Triangle's population alone grew by 43 percent.

Partnership president and CEO Jeremy Waldrup said the increase has prompted developers to build more units in the greater Downtown area, which includes the Strip District, North Shore, Uptown and South Shore. Researchers estimate 1,500 units are currently under construction with another 2,600 in conceptual and developmental phases. The large majority of these appear to be high-end units, such as 312 apartments expected to open this summer within the Kaufmann building on Fifth Avenue and 86 luxury condos expected to begin construction this spring at 350 Oliver Avenue.

About 34 percent of those new units fall within the Golden Triangle, which lies mostly west of Crosstown Boulevard between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Average rent for a one bedroom unit Downtown is $1,631, compared to the city average of $1,160.

Waldrup said he doesn't think developers are jumping the gun, as occupancy rates have risen from 88 to 94 percent year over year, and the demographic filling those homes are often loyal.

"Downtown residents don't tend to leave," he said. "A lot of folks have been here over five, oftentimes over 10 years."

Waldrup said there's been an increased effort by the partnership to make the area feel more like a neighborhood among the hustle and bustle of commuting workers and tourists.

"We've created a number of park-like opportunities in unexpected places, [and] we've also encouraged the creation of public art," he said. "We also know that other ways to create community are through our events, things like our [Market Square] farmers market."