I haven’t written much for the blog lately because I’ve been scrambling to work out the last minute details of this year’s Urban Exploration trip to Center City Philadelphia. I’m about to head out the door and realized I had a few minutes to draft an update on the trip for the blog.
At first thought, Philadelphia may not seem like the obvious choice for a group of Downtown Denver stakeholders to visit on a best practices trip. You think I haven’t heard about “filthidelphia” before? Well, after you ignore the jokes and stereotypes and look at what has actually occurred in Philadelphia over the last 20 years you’d realize that it’s the perfect place for a group of Downtown Denver stakeholders to visit in 2011. Here are some facts to consider about Center City Philadelphia, from the Center City District’s, “State of Center City 2010.”
- Center City enjoys the third largest residential downtown in the United States and is number one in the percent of residents who walk to work (35%).
- $55 million in streetscape, façade and public area improvements have been made by the Center City District since 1997.
- Center City is the regional hub for a multi-modal transit network of rail, trolleys, subways and buses that carry an average of over 309,000 passengers downtown daily.
- Twelve colleges, universities and medical schools account for 21% of downtown jobs, educate 31,043 students annually and in 2009 attracted $83.8 million in National Institutes of Health research grants.
- Since 1997, Center City has added 12,265 new housing units, converting vacant office buildings, factories and lots into new condos, apartments and single-family housing, transforming neighborhoods, increasing density and attracting supportive, new retail development.
- Within a five-minute walk from the center of downtown at City Hall, there are 67,000 workers, 11,000 residents and 416,000 annual overnight visitors who collectively generate over $150 million in annual demand for shoppers’ goods.
Our 75 Urban Exploration participants are looking forward to meeting with the public and private sector leaders who have contributed to creating these incredible numbers and hope to take away lessons learned back to Downtown Denver and our work of implementing the Downtown Area Plan. The Urban Exploration trip visits a new downtown each year to learn about best practices and strategic initiatives that have contributed to the success of that particular city’s downtown. Past cities include Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC and Vancouver, British Columbia.