- Downtowns have been thriving all across the US over the last decade but southern states amp up the game. Four of the top five most active downtown areas for new apartment construction are in the South.
- By sheer numbers, Atlanta, GA, ranks first for apartments built in a downtown area over the past 10 years, with over 21,500 apartments added to the local inventory.
- Nashville, TN, St. Petersburg, FL, and Phoenix, AZ, stand out as the cities with the largest shares of new downtown apartment development. In all three cities, housing in 50+ unit buildings built between 2013 and 2021 represents more than 70% of the large-scale apartment inventory. Tampa and Miami in Florida follow close behind at 69% and 66%, respectively.
- Downtown apartment construction is a catalyst for self storage development: Atlanta and Houston rank #1 and #3 for new apartments and #1 and #2 for new self storage space.
Downtown living can be quite polarizing – some people love the hustle and bustle of city center areas while others tend to avoid them in favor of quieter neighborhoods a little further out. But even with the rapid development of life in the suburbs, downtown living never lost its shine. In fact, according to our latest study, the country’s major cities experienced a resurgence of apartment construction in their central neighborhoods over the last decade.
To see which urban cores are brimming with new housing options, we looked at the downtown areas of the country’s 100 largest cities and ranked them based on the number of multifamily units delivered over the past 10 years.
Overall, across the 100 cities analyzed, about 391K downtown apartments were built from 2013 to present day, representing 37% of the total inventory of multifamily units in those areas. The rebirth of the American downtown as a place to live comes in response to people’s changing attitudes and lifestyle preferences. Walkability has gotten priority over car-dependency, and proximity to jobs, shops and entertainment is particularly important for a large group of people.
From long-established urban hotspots in Atlanta, Miami and Denver to budding communities in Nashville and Raleigh, downtown apartment construction is flourishing throughout the country. Self storage development is also getting a huge push out of the buzzing apartment scene, with nine of the top 10 markets for new apartments also seeing significant self storage development over the last decade. Atlanta leads the pack in terms of both new apartments and self storage. Looking at apartment inventory expansion, Nashville, TN, steals the national spotlight with 79% of its downtown apartments built in the last 10 years.
High-flying Atlanta increases its downtown apartment inventory by 50% over the past decade
Atlanta, GA, is one of the country’s fastest growing cities, and the expansion of its downtown multifamily sector confirms the trend. It ranks first among the 100 largest cities in the US for new apartment options, with the city’s downtown area having seen the addition of no less than 21,500 new apartments from 2013 to today, representing more than half or its total existing inventory. Moreover, downtown Atlanta has another 7,000 new apartments currently under construction.
The best year for downtown apartment construction in Atlanta was 2017, when over 3,700 new apartments were added to the local inventory. Although the pandemic temporarily hampered the sector, with just 1,300 new units added in 2020, the decrease in activity was short lived, and last year over 2,700 new apartments were built in downtown Atlanta.
Downtown Atlanta’s revival is essentially linked to the city reinventing itself as “the business center of the Southeast,” with 1.9 million jobs expected to be created by 2040, according to the city’s Invest Atlanta economic development authority. Many of the jobs created in Atlanta are in well-paying sectors such as life sciences, engineering and corporate management, attracting a population of young professionals that naturally favor downtown living in order to be close to jobs and entertainment amenities.
One compromise that downtown living usually entails is a lack of space at home, as apartments tend to be smaller in urban cores. But the city’s strong self storage sector can help renters comfortably make up for it. There are plenty of options for those seeking to maximize space in downtown Atlanta, with almost 1.6M square feet of self storage space in the area. Average street rates for 10’x10’ self storage units hover around $145 in downtown Atlanta.
Los Angeles, CA ranks second nationally for the number of apartments built in its downtown area over the past decade, over 19K, representing about 46% of the total inventory. The trend is holding strong this year as well, with 900 units having already been delivered in 2022, and another 4,700 units in the pipeline to be completed in the next couple of years. While downtown LA saw under 900 apartments built in 2013, the number more than quadrupled by 2019, with over 3,800 new apartments delivered in the area that year.
Southern US cities work hard to see their downtown areas grow
Houston, TX ranks third for downtown apartments built over the past decade, with over 15,600 units, representing almost two thirds of the existing inventory in the area. The city’s significant expansion of its downtown housing stock was a long time in the making, with supporting programs such as the Downtown Living Initiative committed to improving the local economic and development scene.
An additional 2,700 apartment units are currently under construction in Houston's downtown districts, with completion dates spanning approx. two years.
Another southern hub, Charlotte, NC, added almost 13K new apartments to its center city district, and the new units built over the past decade make up roughly 57% of the total existing stock. The best year of the decade for multifamily construction in Uptown Charlotte was 2021, with over 2,200 new apartments delivered. Construction activity doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, as an additional 3,500 units are currently under construction.
Charlotte has in fact been following a well-established plan since 1966 to promote and streamline downtown housing development. The latest update, which provides a framework for growth until 2040, was voted by City Council in late 2021.
Another North Carolina city that fares well for downtown multifamily construction is Raleigh, ranking 15th, with 8,300 new apartments over the past 10 years, and another 3,600 in the pipeline. This puts Raleigh 6th nationally for new apartments under construction in the downtown area.
Already well-known as a popular tourist destination and a hub of finance, arts and entertainment, Miami, FL, is expanding its downtown housing inventory to accommodate an influx of new residents. It ranks fifth for multifamily construction over the past decade, with around 12,400 new units delivered, of which over 2,200 were built last year alone. Miami’s downtown area has another 5,600 units currently under construction.
Nashville, TN lands on the sixth spot nationally for the number of new units added to its downtown – over 11K apartments over the past decade. Looking strictly at the expansion of its downtown living situation, Nashville performed best among the country’s largest 100 cities. The 11K apartments added over the last decade represent almost 80% of the area’s total apartment inventory. Moreover, an additional 4,800 apartments are currently under construction.
St. Petersburg, FL and Phoenix, AZ, are other cities that had a massive share of their downtown multifamily inventory built within the past ten years: 77% and 73%, respectively.
Jersey City is the downtown multifamily construction champion of the East Coast
The first East Coast city to make the top 20 list is Jersey City, NJ, ranking 8th nationally, with over 10K apartments built from 2013 to 2022 in its downtown area, representing 60% of the total inventory. The best year for downtown apartment construction in Jersey City was 2017, when almost 3,000 new apartments were built – however, 2022 is on track to be an excellent year as well, as almost 1,200 new units have already been delivered so far.
The NYC borough of Brooklyn ranks 9th nationally, with its downtown expanding by 9,600 apartments over the past 10 years and another 4,100 units under construction right now.
One of only two midwestern hubs to land in the top 20 list, Minneapolis, MN, saw over 9,500 apartments built in its downtown area over the last 10 years. Chicago, IL is close behind on the 12th position, with around 9,000 apartments built since 2013.
Massive apartment construction in downtown Atlanta and Houston boosted self storage development as well
Lack of space at home is one of the main reasons behind the growth of the self storage market. With urban cores becoming the place to be for an increasing number of renters, the need for more space transferred to downtown areas as well, and many developers rushed to deliver. 68% of the top 100 cities for new multifamily construction also saw a significant expansion of their self storage sectors.
Leading both apartment and self storage construction, Atlanta’s downtown area saw the addition of almost 671K square feet of self storage space from 2013 to 2022, while downtown Houston added more than 640K square feet of new space during the same period.
Top 20 Downtown Areas for Self Storage Construction
2013 to 2022
|Rank||City||State||Self Storage Space Construction, 2013 to 2022 (sq. ft.)||Self Storage Inventory (sq. ft.)|
|12||Jersey City||New Jersey||389,516||515,473|
StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data
Miami, FL, also experienced an active decade in terms of both apartments and self storage. The city has added more than 530K square feet of new storage space to its downtown area, representing 71% of its existing stock.
Check out downtown apartment construction activity in the 100 biggest US cities below:
Downtown Multifamily Construction in the Country’s Top 100 Cities
|Rank||City||State||Downtown Area Zip Codes||Multifamily Units, 2013 to 2022||Multifamily Units, Total Inventory||Share of MF Units Built From 2013 to 2022||Self Storage Street Rate||Self Storage Space, 2013 to 2022 (sq. ft.)
|1||Atlanta||Georgia||30303, 30308, 30309, 30313, 30318||21,508||41,191||52%||$146||670,767|
|2||Los Angeles||California||90012, 90013, 90014, 90015, 90017, 90021, 90058||19,342||42,170||46%||$214||200,060|
|3||Houston||Texas||77002, 77003, 77007||15,607||24,748||63%||$150||639,010
|4||Charlotte||North Carolina||28202, 28204, 28206, 28208||12,836||22,550||57%||$101||403,690
|5||Miami||Florida||33128, 33129, 33130, 33131, 33132, 33136||12,401||18,775||66%||$320||530,778|
|6||Nashville||Tennessee||37201, 37203, 37219||11,144||14,177||79%||$133||191,293|
|8||Jersey City||New Jersey||07302||10,236||17,005||60%||$217||389,516
|9||Brooklyn||New York||11201, 11216, 11217, 11238||9,623||20,752||46%||$260||142,820
|10||Minneapolis||Minnesota||55401, 55402, 55403, 55404, 55415||9,554||21,820||44%||$144||N/A
|11||Baltimore||Maryland||21201, 21202, 21217, 21223, 21230, 21231||9,043||27,147||33%||$132||413,006
|12||Chicago||Illinois||60601, 60602, 60603, 60604, 60605||9,031||18,379||49%||$158||239,258
|14||San Antonio||Texas||78204 ,78205, 78206, 78207, 78209, 78210, 78212, 78215, 78216||8,373||31,409||27%||$121||430,812
|15||Raleigh||North Carolina||27601, 27603, 27604, 27612, 27617||8,341||28,554||29%||$100||596,747|
|16||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||19102, 19103, 19106, 19107, 19146, 191477||8,019||19,916||40%||$136||74,014
|18||San Jose||California||95110, 95112, 95113, 95116, 95126||7,487||18,938||40%||$150||307,916
|19||Richmond||Virginia||23219, 23220, 23223, 23224||7,329||23,685||31%||$119||310,611
|20||Orlando||Florida||32801, 32803, 32805||7,264||11,828||61%||$164||172,229
|21||Dallas||Texas||75201, 75202, 75207||7,162||15,042||48%||$188||101,741
|22||Washington||District of Columbia||20001, 20005, 20036, 20037||6,831||22,322||31%||N/A||N/A
|23||Kansas City||Missouri||64101, 64102, 64105, 64106, 64108, 64109||6,629||14,004||47%||$136||38,250
|24||Fort Worth||Texas||76102, 76104, 76110, 76111||6,485||10,438||62%||$88||273,131
|25||Boston||Massachusetts||02108, 02109, 02110, 02111, 02114, 02210||6,443||11,458||56%||N/A||N/A
|26||Indianapolis||Indiana||46202, 46203, 46204, 46225||6,175||13,629||45%||$109||347,965
|27||Cleveland||Ohio||44113, 44114, 44115||6,132||15,517||40%||$131||131,218
|31||Irvine||California||92606, 92612, 92614||5,249||18,184||29%||$172||570,836
|33||Plano||Texas||75023, 75074, 75075||4,565||16,146||28%||$100||536,434
|34||New Orleans||Louisiana||70112, 70113, 70115, 70119, 70130||4,206||10,655||39%||$176||475,390
|36||Memphis||Tennessee||38103, 38104, 38105, 38126||3,748||14,004||27%||$113||N/A
|38||Louisville||Kentucky||40202, 40203, 40204, 40206||3,459||9,738||36%||$108||420,063
|39||Des Moines||Iowa||50309, 50319, 50391, 50392||3,462||5,903||59%||$107||80,325
|40||St. Paul||Minnesota||55101, 55102||3,454||7,525||46%||$141||171,630
|41||Scottsdale||Arizona||85250, 85251, 85658||3,416||8,818||39%||$174||273,491|
|43||Detroit||Michigan||48201, 48207, 48216, 48226||3,169||17,263||18%||$212||N/A|
|44||Portland||Oregon||97201, 97204, 97205||3,158||10,786||29%||N/A||N/A
|45||Manhattan||New York||10007, 1001,3 10038, 10005, 10014, 10012, 10004, 10280, 10006||3,136||25,735||12%||$457||16,150
|46||Jacksonville||Florida||32202, 32204, 32207||3,085||8,515||36%||$195||319,445|
|52||Reno||Nevada||89501, 89502, 89503, 89509, 89512||2,439||17,385||14%||$127||254,934
|55||Sacramento||California||95811, 95814, 95816||2,213||5,782||38%||$175||57,000
|57||Oklahoma City||Oklahoma||73102, 73103, 73104, 73106, 73109, 73129||2,092||6,052||35%||$110||139,320
|58||Arlington||Texas||76010, 76011, 76012||1,891||19,973||9%||$99||54,840
|59||Las Vegas||Nevada||89101, 89104, 89106, 89110||1,730||19,962||9%||$116||191,377
|61||Henderson||Nevada||89002, 89012, 89015||1,548||7,435||21%||$132||171,812
|64||Norfolk||Virginia||23507, 23510, 23517||1,498||4,231||35%||$101||N/A|
|67||St. Louis||Missouri||63101, 63102||1,236||3,836||32%||N/A||144,750
|69||Wichita||Kansas||67202, 67203, 67214||1,044||5,521||19%||$86||35,676
|72||Albuquerque||New Mexico||87102, 87104||931||3,438||27%||$127||101,502
|74||Corpus Christi||Texas||78401, 78404, 78405, 78407, 78408, 78409, 78411, 78415, 78416, 78417||902||7,878||11%||$100||210,720
|75||Spring Valley||Nevada||89103, 89147||868||18,317||5%||$124||76,068|
|77||San Francisco||California||94104, 94108, 94111, 94133||687||4,374||16%||$353||101,853
|82||Colorado Springs||Colorado||80903, 80904, 80905||504||3,006||17%||$132||18,149
|83||Buffalo||New York||14202, 14203||480||2,004||24%||N/A||N/A|
|84||Queens||New York||11355, 11354||478||9,617||5%||$238||252,561
|85||Stockton||California||95202, 95203, 95204, 95205, 95206||446||3,279||14%||$130||N/A|
|88||Greensboro||North Carolina||27401, 27403||407||3,489||12%||$141||N/A|
|91||Chula Vista||California||91910, 91911||352||11,461||3%||$180||47,774
|99||North Las Vegas||Nevada||89030||120||2,918||4%||$91||N/A|
StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data
Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager - Yardi Matrix
What makes people want to live in downtown areas?
The massive shifts in housing preferences we’ve witnessed in relation to the health crisis are still bound to have ripple effects for years to come. The hybrid or remote working trend, for one, has created a context for a reversed type of migration – it’s not just the employees following available jobs and housing options anymore, but jobs and new construction coming to places where people want to live.
Places like Atlanta and Houston, which have long attracted workers with in-demand skills, have turned their urban cores into vibrant environments where residents can work, live and have easy access to after-work entertainment.Read more....
Where do you see the downtown areas of cities heading in the near future, particularly from the point of view of multifamily construction?
The cost of single-family homes is outpacing wage increases across the country, which means that buying is less affordable for many Americans. This is particularly true in large metropolitan areas in Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, and New York that have seen major population increases. Considering the affordability issue, multifamily properties present a far more appealing alternative, especially for busy professionals who seek both comfort and convenience in their housing choices.
The compromise on space, which often accompanies urban living, is easily addressed today as self storage is widely available in most locations. The self storage industry now counts over $1.6B of storage space nationwide.
Has the increased activity in the multifamily sector affected self storage development?
Yes. As a matter of fact, multifamily growth is considered a catalyst for self-storage development due to unit configuration sizes based on dense urban zoning criteria.
This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.
The scope of the analysis was to identify the best downtown areas for new apartment construction. We based our research on the 100 largest cities by population in the US, according to 2020 population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. We considered only the downtown area of each city, based on corresponding ZIP codes.
Data on downtown apartment and self storage development over the past decade (2013 to 2022) was sourced from our sister division Yardi Matrix. Yardi Matrix is a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.
The ranking is based on the number of multifamily units built in the downtown area of each city from 2013 to 2022. We also calculated the share of multifamily units and of self storage square footage built over the past decade out of the total inventory in each downtown area.
Self storage street rates represent the average rent for 10’x10’ self storage units located in the downtown areas of the cities analyzed.
Fair use and distribution
This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.