PHOENIX — You don't have to go very far in downtown Phoenix before you see a new residential high rise under construction. Right now, just over 3,000 high-density residential units are under construction. This is quite the change from the 1970s when people left downtown Phoenix in droves.
"People were going for big backyards, they were going for a more suburban lifestyle and in fact, we didn't get back to the population that we had in 1970 until 2016," said Chris Mackay, the city's community and economic development director.
Today, 58,000 people work in downtown Phoenix and a growing number are living there. The city says the numbers they're getting from downtown properties and the bulk of people renting downtown aren't from Arizona.
"Sixty-two percent of their new leases are being signed by people outside the state of Arizona," said Mackay.
Living downtown will cost you.
A two-bedroom can easily go for several thousand dollars a month. The most recent numbers from the city show the average price for rent city-wide is $1,384 during the first quarter of 2022. In downtown Phoenix, the average is $1,881.
However, the city says the median income for downtown workers is $64,000 a year. That's about double the county's median income.
Mackay says one of the biggest challenges for the city is to keep a balance. Developers are required to keep a certain percentage of their units for workforce housing.
"Workforce housing is that individuals can afford that are more in your 80% to 120% of the area median income."
More projects are slated for downtown Phoenix. One is the future of the former Chase Tower, Arizona's tallest building. Right now the skyscraper is undergoing a massive overhaul.
"I really do think that you'll see it come out as an absolutely gorgeous new mixed-use tower so it might have residential, it might have retail, it might have office," said Mackay. "There might be a hotel."
As of the beginning of March, seven high-rise projects are under construction in downtown Phoenix. Another six are expected to break ground before the end of 2022.