Major U.S. downtowns are still recovering economically after the pandemic stopped concerts and sporting events, people moved away from cities and many workers stayed home.
Since then, each downtown has recovered a little differently. Nashville’s has seen a full recovery while San Francisco’s is still at less than a 70% recovery rate, according to a new report by Philadelphia’s Center City District analyzing the economic rebound in the 26 largest downtown districts in the country. Five of those are in Texas. Across the state, different approaches to downtown recovery have garnered varied results.
For a downtown to thrive, a mix of employment is crucial.
“There are cities — and San Antonio is one of them — which have a very, very high rate of jobs and industries in the Hospitality Tourism and entertainment,” said Paul Levy, CEO of Philadelphia’s Center City District. “Those cities have the highest rate of worker returns.”
It was locals who first returned to the city’s walkable, outdoor destinations, said Dave Petersen, Interim President and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
“We are seeing that that more regular tourism now follow on the heels of the local return,” he said.
But further north in Dallas, downtown is more corporate, said Jennifer Scripps, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.
“We are the second largest concentration of financial services jobs in the country behind New York,” she said
Just 70% or so have returned to downtown offices, Scripps added. But tourists are back, and they’re spending more — on everything from shopping to spa treatments to dining, she said.
Scripps said Dallas is reinventing itself into a more walkable, attractive city to appeal to both residents and visitors.
240 miles south on I-45, in Houston, worker traffic is reminiscent of the oil bust days of the 1980s which hollowed out downtown, said Central Houston Inc’s CEO Kris Larson.
“It’s a comparable type of strain on the office market, you know, which creates the need for so many other destination enhancing amenities,” he said.
While Astro’s games have been a huge draw, he said there’s a need to make downtown a place people choose to go for other reasons.
Source : Marketpace