The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 August 2005

Everything's waiting for you

The big news downtown today is the release of a new Downtown Housing Study, which says that demand remains strong, but that the danger of saturation lurks in the wings.

What would get people to move downtown?

According to non-downtown residents, the most desired housing is larger rented units with 2-3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Historical loft conversions are the most desired building type.

Only 34% would be willing to pay more than $950 per month. In terms of home ownership, this translates to about a $160,000 mortgage principal in the current lending market.

Secure parking is the most important consideration for potential downtown residents, followed by nearby restaurants.

Beginning with upscale housing should create an anchor for the neighborhood and create the image of a stable community. However, the survey indicates the broadest interest is for more affordable housing. A long-term mismatch of consumer preferences and residential product could lead to a reduced potential demand. Conversely, expanding the spectrum of housing to include additional moderately priced homes in future years should also increase absorption.

Who's downtown already?

82% of respondents who live downtown do not work there. For the majority, it is a lifestyle choice to live downtown, as opposed to the conventional wisdom that downtown residents want to live there because it is close to work or school or to avoid commuter traffic. In fact, OKC does not have the congestion problem that larger cities have and that facilitates living downtown and working elsewhere.

43% of respondents who live downtown have a post-graduate degree; 61% have at least an undergraduate degree.

Downtown residents are a varied group. Many are single or married with no children, or are over 50, retirees or divorced. Reflecting national urban patterns, not many families with school-age children live downtown.

This 43-percent post-graduate figure surprised me; it's about 4.5 times the national average. I attribute this to the fact that there really isn't any low-cost housing in our downtown core.

But what's really amazing is that only 18 percent of downtown residents actually work downtown. They're downtown because they want to be, not because it's convenient or because it might save them some commuting costs. This is a mindset I can understand, even embrace. On the other hand, I don't have a quarter-million I can drop on one of the new townhouses in the Triangle.

Posted at 10:40 AM to City Scene

43% of respondents who live downtown have a post-graduate degree; 61% have at least an undergraduate degree.
That's those with an ADDRESS. There are LOTS of people who live downtown who don't have the luxury of a bed.

Posted by: Dan Lovejoy at 1:11 PM on 3 August 2005

Indeed. We don't know their demographics; we can't even count them with any degree of accuracy. On the other hand, what to do with them is beyond the scope of this report.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:30 PM on 3 August 2005