Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Monthly rents and occupancy rates are rebounding in Downtown Pittsburgh, report shows

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership says new apartment construction should bring another 2,400 residents to the area.

Daily activity in Downtown Pittsburgh has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, but a new report from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership reassures that occupancy rates and rents are recovering.

According to the PDP’s 2022 State of Downtown residential report, 91.9% of residences in the Golden Triangle were occupied in the third quarter of this year, up from 81.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

While average monthly residential rents by square footage dipped slightly in 2020 and 2021, the PDP says rents remained stable over the past few years.

The average rent in the Golden Triangle was $1.93 per square foot this quarter, compared to $1.80 in the first quarter of 2021. That’s still lower than the average rent in adjacent neighborhoods like the Strip District and North Shore.

The PDP says the city is on its way to drawing people back to downtown. September 2022 saw the highest daily activity the neighborhood has seen since the pandemic began, with an average of 87,954 people there each day. That is roughly 62% of September 2019 levels.

Nearly 6,900 people live in the Golden Triangle, according to the PDP's data hub, and residents there skew younger and whiter: the PDP estimates 46% of people living there are under 30 years old, and 73% are white.

The Downtown Partnership says new apartment construction should bring another 2,400 residents to the area. Still, to ensure the neighborhood is resilient, the report suggests the city double its Downtown population.

“Doubling the residential population in Downtown is very realistic, particularly when looking at the successful conversion of commercial office buildings into beautiful residential buildings that we have seen over the last decade,” the report says.

In April, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey announced the creation of a pilot conversion program that offers incentives for the conversion of Class B and C office buildings into residential spaces, with additional resources available if the project includes affordable workforce housing.

The PDP is urging the city to continue that effort, especially where office space is no longer viable for businesses. Office activity downtown remains well behind 2019 levels. PDP president and CEO Jeremy Waldrup said in March that downtown lost 21% of its small businesses over the last two years.

“The investments in a mixed-use Downtown outlined in this report demonstrate its strength as a neighborhood and reinforce the need for continued diversification to meet the needs of today’s evolving work-life realities,” Waldrup said in a statement Thursday. “The evolution of Downtown will require a concerted effort by public and private sectors to creatively finance redevelopment and ensure our services, public spaces, and amenities meet the needs of new residents as well as workers, visitors, and businesses.”

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.