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Demographic Survey Shows Downtowners Sticking Around the Neighborhood

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 12:54PM
Downtown Demographics Survey

A flyer used for the 2008 Demographic Survey.

The average Downtown resident has lived in the neighborhood for 2.3 years, up from just ten months in 2006. That's one of many morsels of data in a report released this morning by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID), which reached just over ten thousand respondents in its 2008 demographic survey.

At a media briefing this morning, DCBID head Carol Schatz emphasized the importance of the gathered data in recruiting businesses to Downtown. "We want to be able to use this data to attract more business, and in particular retail to serve our growing residential population and ... our existing employee population," she said.

DCBID's VP of Economic Development, Hal Bastian, said that retailers see the importance of the BID's work. "The single most important primary research that we put out is this demographic study," he said. "We get requests for it on a daily basis because there is no other information out there. It just doesn't exist."

While census data is the traditional mechanism for understanding a neighborhood's demographics, the latest data available for Downtown is from 2000, before the region's boom began. Plus, the census data only tracks where people live. "We have never known, even with the census data, who was in the office buildings," Bastian pointed out.

The later half of 2008 and beginning of 2009 saw a number of high-profile openings for food and nightlife. "Downtown has become a really hot place to play," Schatz said. "I thought I would never live to see the day, but as this downturn continues we are seeing more restaurants open, more nightclubs open, and they are doing just fine, thank you very much."

The 2008 survey was the first to solicit responses from those who don't live Downtown. For five weeks, the survey was available on the DCBID website and was heavily marketed Downtown.

Other interesting points in the data:

  • Median income for residents stayed relatively steady, with $96,200 in 2008 vs. $99,600 in 2006.

  • Household size for residents inched up from 1.6 to 1.79. 6.4% of resident respondents had one or more children.

  • 73.2% of respondents who are residents said they regularly dine out Downtown, up from 58% in 2006. 69.3% said they regularly socialize Downtown, up from 39.7%.

  • Business/professional/technical services and arts & entertainment were the top two employment sectors for residents, with 20.4% and 17% respectively.

  • 30.9% of residents said they walk to work, with 6.9% riding bicycles.

  • 24.3% of residents had dogs and 16.4% had cats. Residents' 38.7% rate of pet ownership was lower than the 51.5% rate for non-residents.

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