Penn IUR Publications

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

May 2005


Prepared for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, May 2005.


Economics, Economic Development and Real Estate, Housing and Community Development


The increase of housing in downtowns represents an important niche market that has evolved over time. During its development, levels of population, numbers and types of households, rates of homeownership, and downtowner demographic characteristics have changed. This paper documents the changes from 1970-2000 for 46 downtowns in 45 cities representing 19% of the nation’s cities with populations of 100,000 or more. It reports national, regional and individual city trends. It also offers comparisons of these features for the sample cities and their suburbs. While it outlines population changes, it highlights changes in households as the key to understanding downtown living. It records the concentration of downtown households in three places: the Northeast, the Midwest Circle and the California coast, and predicts that if high-growth-rate downtowns, including Seattle, Portland, Atlanta and Dallas, continue to increase at their 1990-2000 levels, they will join the current leaders. It argues that by 2000, five types of downtowns emerged distinguished by their varying degrees of growth, size, density and other characteristics. It concludes with a discussion of three policy concerns that emerge from the analysis revolving around development issues, demographics and market potential and density.

Additional Files

Tables_1_to_25.xls (553 kB)
Tables 1 to 25



Date Posted: 30 January 2006