REPORT: Downtown office buildings have not filled post-pandemic

While downtown employee visits have reached 92% of pre-pandemic levels, there is still more than 1 million square feet of office space available, much of it move-in ready.

According to a report released today by REV Birmingham, the data shows a significant difference on each side of the railroad tracks that bisect downtown when it comes to who is returning to the office. South of the tracks, where UAB and other industries largely require in-person employees, employee visits are at 101.9%. North of the tracks, where more traditional office towers have not filled after the shift to remote and hybrid work, employee visits are just 77.1%.

REV’s Downtown Birmingham Economic Vitality Report takes a comprehensive look at the district, including data points from Q1 and Q2 from the office, residential, retail and hospitality sectors. This is the first of many reports REV, an economic development and place-based revitalization nonprofit, said it plans to release.

“Tracking and truly understanding data is essential to making downtown an even more vibrant place,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of REV Birmingham. “We hope businesses, residents and the community at large will use this data-rich resource to align priorities among partners and make sound decisions to shape downtown’s future.”

Other significant data from the report includes the residential growth and retail demand in the downtown core.

There is a base residential population of 11,000 that swells to more than 17,000 when the University of Alabama at Birmingham is in session, and developments are underway to create homes for aspiring residents, the report finds. There are 6,622 multifamily units existing, 1,605 units under construction and 587 more units proposed, totaling 8,814 units projected for downtown once all those hit the market.

But with that residential growth comes the retail demand. Downtown has 419 active retail locations – a total of 4.4 million square feet. The report includes analysis of what downtown residents are leaving their home district to buy, indicating the retail categories that are in the highest demand right now. Groceries, quick-serve restaurants, superstores (Like Target and Walmart) and community shopping centers (like The Summit or Riverchase Galleria) top the list.

REV will release the economic vitality reports twice a year.

“Data is not the end; it is a means to an end – which is a stronger and more equitable downtown Birmingham,” Fleming said. “We look forward to discussing with downtown developers, business and property owners, policy makers and movers and shakers how you can play a pivotal role in downtown Birmingham’s economic vitality.”



Related Articles