Live, Work, Play…Building an 18-Hour Downtown

June 1, 2018

An 18 hour district. A place where people spend more than just eight hours behind a desk or two hours at a performance and then drive home. That’s what the Chamber’s Downtown Initiative is striving to create in our center city.

A strong residential component is vital to fulfilling this vision. It’s why we’ve been focused over the last five months on bringing multifamily residential developers to town and why we’re tailoring a new website to their needs.

It’s also the motivation behind a new Rental Housing Market Study just completed by tax credit accounting industry-leader Novogradac & Company. The project, supported by the Big Country Apartment Association, revealed tremendous insight into the market for multifamily housing, not just in downtown, but also in the city as a whole.

The most exciting finding in the study is that the downtown area could support an additional 100 to 200 affordable units and 200 to 300 market rate units through the forecast period (2022).

A great deal of opportunity lies with the existing downtown workforce. Of the 5,403 individuals employed downtown, only 31 (0.6 percent) live there.

To date, we’ve hosted eight multifamily housing developers from five states. Their top questions inevitably revolve around rents, unit size and absorption rate. The new study answers many of these unknowns.

The population trend indicates a very young population in the downtown area through 2022. The study’s authors concluded that smaller studios of 450-650 square feet would be accepted in the market, along with one and two bedroom units.

The reported vacancy rates indicate a stable market with excess demand. Concessions are not necessary, and absorption periods for new units should be minimal.

The full report will be posted on the new downtownabi.com website, set to launch on July 5.

The addition of more housing downtown will create more “walking wallets” to support our wonderful cultural assets, restaurants and destination retail businesses, and spur additional commercial development. Improved public amenities will add to quality of life downtown.

What are you looking for in terms of downtown living? Complete our Downtown Housing Preferences Survey and let us know.

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