If you're like me, you've probably been wondering just "who" is moving into downtown these days. From today's SD Union-Tribune -
Not A Who's Who, But A Who's There
By Jeanette Steele
April 12, 2006
Ever wonder who is buying all those downtown condos going up at an amazing pace? A recent survey by a downtown developers group offers some hints.
It's not all empty-nesters and young hipsters, to the surprise of those who commissioned the survey.
Results of the February telephone survey suggest one-fourth of downtown residents – both renters and homeowners – are 35 to 49 and another quarter are 50 to 64. The rest are the youngsters (18 percent are 18 to 34) and seniors (31 percent are older than 65).
About one in 10 downtown residents has children living with them, which could pose problems for a neighborhood that has few elementary and middle schools.
They are apparently an educated bunch, as two-thirds hold college or post graduate degrees, the survey found. And even though they live in a major job center, one-third of downtown residents still drive to work, according to the survey, conducted by a Washington, D.C.-based firm.
Much more than half are white, and about half reported a family income topping $50,000 a year.
The survey was commissioned by the Downtown Residential Marketing Alliance, a group of 18 builders, shopping center giant Westfield Corp. and the Centre City Development Corp., the city's downtown redevelopment arm.
The redevelopment board paid $20,000 of the survey's $45,000 cost.
“Our board was interested in knowing who is buying downtown and why, is there still a market for the housing and where is it,” Vice President Donna Alm said. “If we are out there encouraging and facilitating housing development that doesn't have the ability to be sold, I think we are doing a disservice.”
About 300 people who live downtown responded to the survey. Another 500 who live throughout the county were asked about their views of downtown.
About one-third of the non-downtown residents said they might consider moving to the urban neighborhood.
To apply that ratio to San Diego County's population of 3 million – and marketers employed by the developers say it is statistically acceptable to do so – about 1 million people might view downtown as an attractive place to live.
At a time when San Diego's housing market is cooling, that's seemingly good news for developers.
The developers who commissioned the survey said they are also encouraged by the answers they got to the real estate “bubble” question: Of the people surveyed, 36 percent said they think downtown condo prices will appreciate and 35 percent believe prices won't rise, but won't drop, either.
Still, there are indications downtown could be a soft spot in the region's real estate picture.
About 600 previously owned condos are for sale downtown, roughly double the number this time last year. About 2,000 new units are being marketed in completed or upcoming projects. And sales data suggests that property values have stalled overall.
Christopher Wahl, a consultant for the developer alliance, said the slowdown has a silver lining because it means the market's pace is sustainable and isn't being driven by real estate speculators.
“It gives people that otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to live down here, the opportunity,” he said.
***Who lives in downtown's condos?***
65 and older: 31 percent
50 to 64: 25 percent
35 to 49: 25 percent
18 to 34: 18 percent
Single: 39 percent
Married: 29 percent
Separated/divorced: 16 percent
None: 51 percent
Children, but not living in the home: 36 percent
Children living in the home: 10 percent
Family annual income:
$50,000 to $200,000: 43 percent
Less than $50,000: 33 percent
White: 80 percent
Black: 4 percent
Hispanic: 4 percent
Asian: 1 percent
American Indian: 1 percent
College degree: 37 percent
High school graduate/some college/other schooling: 34 percent
Postgraduate school: 30 percent
Employed full time: 53 percent
Retired: 32 percent
Employed part time: 4 percent
Student: 2 percent
Homemaker: 2 percent
Commute to work:
Drive: 34 percent
Work at home or homemaker: 34 percent
Walk: 15 percent
Bus: 3 percent
(Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 because not all categories are listed.)
Source: Downtown Residential Marketing Alliance survey