How Philadelphia Fills Vacant High-Rises Will Affect the Future of Center City for Good


Center City Philadelphia skyline.
Image via iStock.
Philadelphia skyline with downtown skyscrapers.

With many high-rises in Philadelphia still vacant after the pandemic prompted many companies to shift to remote or hybrid work, the question remains how to fill that empty space, writes Sandy Smith for Philadelphia Magazine.

The way that question is eventually answered is likely to affect Center City forever.

According to the data collected by Center City District, Philadelphia’s office occupancy was at 57% in September. That leaves lots of space sitting empty for three-and-a-half years since the start of the pandemic.

However, if the occupancy levels remain the same, the city will most likely not end up with a sea of see-through towers dotting the skyline.

“Forty office towers downtown, almost 10 million square feet, were converted to housing between 1998 and 2022,” said Center City District president and CEO Paul Levy.

Not all buildings are likely to be converted into apartments or condos, however. What will happen to those that do not is the main question.

“I don’t have an answer to it, and the banks who hold loans on these buildings don’t, either,” said Alterra Property Group founder and managing partner Leo Addimando.

Only time will tell what ultimately happens to the empty space.

Read more about the future of vacant office space in Philadelphia Magazine.


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