Pittsburgh's Downtown tops ranking of small to midsized cities
The Golden Triangle is America's best downtown among small to midsized cities, according to a report released Monday by a Tennessee-based marketing company.
“Downtown has made tremendous strides in the last five years,” said John Valentine, executive director of the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp.
Livability.com, owned and operated by Journal Communications Inc., said Pittsburgh's walkable Downtown features a growing population, numerous entertainment options and low vacancy rates.
Officials from Mayor Bill Peduto's office and two Downtown advocacy groups said they have not worked with the marketing firm but were pleased to accept its recognition.
Pittsburgh ranked ahead of Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Greenville, S.C., and Salt Lake City. Alexandria, Va.; Fargo, N.D.; Lincoln, Neb.; Somerville, Mass.; and Evanston, Ill., rounded out the Top 10.
“Throughout cities large and small, the energy and resources focused on restoring Main Streets and urban cores is paying off,” said Livability.com editor Matt Carmichael.
A study released in May by the nonprofit Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership showed the population of Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods was 12,343, up 10.5 percent from 2010. Apartment occupancy held steady at about 95 percent, even as average rents soared 11 percent, the study said.
The Downtown Partnership said conversion projects to remake former commercial space, along with new construction, would further grow the Downtown-area population.
The 5.3 percent vacancy rate for Class A office space in Pittsburgh's central business district is one of the lowest in the country, according to a January report by real estate company CBRE Inc.
Jeremy Waldrup, the Downtown Partnership's executive director, said his group and others are working to attract people from other city neighborhoods and the suburbs to Downtown on nights and weekends. Efforts include the Rooftop Shindig and Urban Supper programs, which revolve around fine dining and entertainment in urban settings.
Waldrup said groups are working to get a wider range of retail options. An upscale grocery store set to open this month will end the Golden Triangle's five-year stretch without one.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.