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Pittsburgh's Downtown Continues To Grow

Business is booming in the Golden Triangle, according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s (PDP) third annual State of Downtown Report.

The report notes a decrease in available office space, an increase in rents and a steady climb in residential population.

“Our downtown continues to be the employment center of our region, which is very important when you look at the way that people are looking at where they want to live,” Jeremy Waldrup, PDP executive director, said. “Kind of regionally and nationally, I think there’s been a real push for people to live in urban centers.”

Downtown saw a residential population increase of nearly 41 percent between 2000 and 2010, about 1,053 people. The 2013 greater downtown population rose 10.5 percent from 2010. It sits at 12,343 people, according to census data.

Waldrup said employment opportunities and population growth tend to go hand-in-hand.

“We saw five percent growth in downtown jobs from 2005 until 2011,” he said, “and that’s a direct result of companies growing in the downtown, of new firms moving in, and just a real interest in being part of a walkable urban community.”

Central business district vacancy fell overall from 14.2 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 5.6 percent in 2014. Compared to peer cities such as Austin, Denver, Philadelphia and Seattle, Pittsburgh’s office occupancy rate is doing well, landing just behind Charlotte, which holds the top spot.

The city’s retail vacancy, on the other hand, could use some work. Last year, retail vacancy downtown was at 10 percent, higher than the peer city average of 7.5 percent.

While downtown’s retail vacancy is being outdone right now, Waldrup said there are signs of positive change.

“We still have a fairly large vacancy rate from a retail perspective, but we’re starting to see that change,” he said. “Retail rates are starting to increase and I think that’s speaking to more interest and you’re starting to see some fantastic restaurants open up in downtown.”

If all this growth is going to continue, Waldrup said downtown needs to consider its neighbors.

“I think it’s going to be important for us to really look at how the downtown and the greater downtown area approaches our adjacent neighborhoods,” he said. “The growth is going to push and pull neighborhoods.”

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."