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Will Center City commuters return?

What does Center City Philadelphia’s future look like? While the buzz of cosmopolitan living around Rittenhouse Square has increased in the past few months, uncertainty remains about the live / work lifestyle in MidTown Center City.’s recent article highlighted the significant financial and tax impact for Philadelphia if our new office “normal” means working from home, or suburban locations instead of Center City commercial space:

In 2019, nearly 120,000 people commuted from the suburbs into jobs in Center City (not including those headed to University City or other job hubs like the Navy Yard). The Center City District calculated that downtown office workers like Reckamp and Pfluger spent a collective $824 million annually on food, retail and other services around their office buildings, which also contributed to Philadelphia’s coffers. Commuters coming from the suburbs added some $875 million in wage taxes to the city’s budget annually. A potential long-term post-pandemic shift from commuting to remote work imperils all that revenue.

“If we’re going to see this shift over time, we’re going to have a less stable wage tax, less sales tax revenue,” says Akira Drake Rodriguez, an assistant professor of city and regional planning at Penn. “This is a shift in how cities are going to look and operate.”

As I’ve shared with you before, market trends are like swiftly changing ocean currents. Undertows can be dangerous, with very little movement seen on the surface of the ocean.

The Center City condo market has many various currents going on. Shifting trends that aren’t yet making the news, such as a slight but significant uptick in the 1-2 bd condo market in Rittenhouse Square priced under $500K. Luxury condo sales remain soft, but buyer demand for smaller condos that offer the Rittenhouse lifestyle has increased.

Both MidTown Center City and Rittenhouse Square condo markets seem likely for recovery based on increase in demand for residential rentals in urban centers. Cities like Boston and New York saw a significant increase in April as noted in this recent article – Rebound in Sight for Urban Rental Markets.

To watch trends closely, be sure to check out my Community Guides where market reports are updated automatically.

These updates, although current, run at least one month behind as do all market reports. To find out what’s happening in your micro-market right now, please schedule a 15 minute consultation with me.

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Susanna Kunkel

Susanna Kunkel brings her skills from a career in the executive offices of major corporations to her real estate business - treating each client like a VIP. With 18 years of experience as a real estate advisor, you can be confident in knowledgeable, personalized, confidential service. Hear what her clients say -

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