• 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.

Houston downtown area

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.

Downtown Nashville

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.

Jersey City downtown area

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

RankCityStateSelf Storage Space Construction, 2013 to 2022 (sq. ft.)Self Storage Inventory (sq. ft.)
1Atlanta
Georgia670,767
1,587,883
2Houston
Texas639,010
978,797
3RaleighNorth Carolina596,7472,249,163
4IrvineCalifornia570,836
1,232,049
5PlanoTexas536,434
2,054,770
6MiamiFlorida530,778
747,233
7New OrleansLouisiana475,3901,030,773
8San AntonioTexas430,8122,130,680
9LouisvilleKentucky420,063
733,732
10BaltimoreMaryland413,006
948,664
11CharlotteNorth Carolina403,690723,391
12Jersey CityNew Jersey389,516515,473
13IndianapolisIndiana347,965690,976
14JacksonvilleFlorida319,445600,021
15RichmondVirginia310,6111,099,434
16San JoseCalifornia307,9161,352,633
17DenverColorado289,830319,044
18ScottsdaleArizona273,491624,658
19Fort WorthTexas273,131907,638
20GarlandTexas269,151539,803

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

RankCityStateDowntown Area Zip CodesMultifamily Units, 2013 to 2022Multifamily Units, Total InventoryShare of MF Units Built From 2013 to 2022Self Storage Street RateSelf Storage Space, 2013 to 2022 (sq. ft.)
1Atlanta Georgia30303, 30308, 30309, 30313, 30318
21,50841,19152%$146670,767
2Los Angeles California90012, 90013, 90014, 90015, 90017, 90021, 90058
19,34242,17046%$214200,060
3Houston Texas77002, 77003, 77007
15,60724,74863%$150639,010
4Charlotte North Carolina28202, 28204, 28206, 28208
12,83622,55057%$101403,690
5Miami Florida33128, 33129, 33130, 33131, 33132, 33136
12,40118,77566%$320530,778
6Nashville Tennessee37201, 37203, 37219
11,14414,17779%$133191,293
7Denver Colorado80202, 80204
10,73018,63358%$106289,830
8Jersey City New Jersey0730210,23617,00560%$217389,516
9Brooklyn New York11201, 11216, 11217, 11238
9,62320,75246%$260142,820
10Minneapolis Minnesota55401, 55402, 55403, 55404, 55415
9,55421,82044%$144N/A
11Baltimore Maryland21201, 21202, 21217, 21223, 21230, 21231
9,04327,14733%$132413,006
12Chicago Illinois60601, 60602, 60603, 60604, 606059,03118,37949%$158239,258
13San Diego California921018,69616,78252%$194N/A
14San Antonio Texas78204 ,78205, 78206, 78207, 78209, 78210, 78212, 78215, 78216
8,37331,40927%$121430,812
15Raleigh North Carolina27601, 27603, 27604, 27612, 27617
8,34128,55429%$100596,747
16Philadelphia Pennsylvania19102, 19103, 19106, 19107, 19146, 1914778,01919,91640%$13674,014
17Tampa Florida33602, 33606
7,49410,92669%$148106,360
18San Jose California95110, 95112, 95113, 95116, 951267,48718,93840%$150307,916
19Richmond Virginia23219, 23220, 23223, 23224
7,32923,68531%$119310,611
20Orlando Florida32801, 32803, 328057,26411,82861%$164
172,229
21Dallas Texas75201, 75202, 75207
7,16215,04248%$188101,741
22Washington District of Columbia20001, 20005, 20036, 200376,83122,32231%N/AN/A
23Kansas City Missouri64101, 64102, 64105, 64106, 64108, 641096,62914,00447%$13638,250
24Fort Worth Texas76102, 76104, 76110, 761116,48510,43862%$88273,131
25Boston Massachusetts02108, 02109, 02110, 02111, 02114, 022106,44311,45856%N/AN/A
26Indianapolis Indiana46202, 46203, 46204, 462256,17513,62945%$109347,965
27Cleveland Ohio44113, 44114, 44115
6,13215,51740%$131131,218
28Oakland California94607, 946126,08512,54449%$21662,584
29Phoenix Arizona85003, 85004
5,9088,04773%N/AN/A
30Columbus Ohio432155,8099,62760%$99172,941
31Irvine California92606, 92612, 926145,24918,18429%$172570,836
32Seattle Washington981214,8889,80250%$23650,019
33Plano Texas75023, 75074, 75075
4,56516,14628%$100536,434
34New Orleans Louisiana70112, 70113, 70115, 70119, 70130
4,20610,65539%$176475,390
35Austin Texas78701, 787034,1447,27557%$203152,025
36Memphis Tennessee38103, 38104, 38105, 381263,74814,00427%$113N/A
37Madison Wisconsin537033,5037,53047%N/AN/A
38Louisville Kentucky40202, 40203, 40204, 40206
3,4599,73836%$108420,063
39Des Moines Iowa50309, 50319, 50391, 503923,4625,90359%$10780,325
40St. Paul Minnesota55101, 55102
3,4547,52546%$141171,630
41Scottsdale Arizona85250, 85251, 856583,4168,81839%$174273,491
42Pittsburgh Pennsylvania15219, 152223,2587,59743%$159N/A
43Detroit Michigan48201, 48207, 48216, 482263,16917,26318%$212
N/A
44Portland Oregon97201, 97204, 972053,15810,78629%N/AN/A
45Manhattan New York10007, 1001,3 10038, 10005, 10014, 10012, 10004, 10280, 100063,13625,73512%$457
16,150
46Jacksonville Florida32202, 32204, 32207
3,0858,51536%$195319,445
47Omaha Nebraska68102, 681313,0415,53055%$94N/A
48Durham North Carolina277012,5764,81653%$138160,891
49Cincinnati Ohio452022,5744,98852%$145110,678
50Fremont California94536, 945382,47915,04816%$243N/A
51Virginia Beach Virginia234622,4599,33626%$12299,707
52Reno Nevada89501, 89502, 89503, 89509, 895122,43917,38514%$127254,934
53St. Petersburg Florida337012,3613,04977%$218N/A
54Arlington Virginia222012,34011,66320%$209N/A
55Sacramento California95811, 95814, 958162,2135,78238%$17557,000
56Long Beach California908022,1194,98143%$256N/A
57Oklahoma City Oklahoma73102, 73103, 73104, 73106, 73109, 731292,0926,05235%$110139,320
58Arlington Texas76010, 76011, 76012
1,89119,9739%$9954,840
59Las Vegas Nevada89101, 89104, 89106, 891101,73019,9629%$116191,377
60Boise Idaho83702, 83706
1,7065,85729%$13587,193
61Henderson Nevada89002, 89012, 89015
1,5487,43521%$132171,812
62Winston-Salem North Carolina271011,5293,38745%$7864,125
63Garland Texas750401,5203,39945%$106269,151
64Norfolk Virginia23507, 23510, 235171,4984,23135%$101N/A
65Newark New Jersey071021,4425,21428%N/AN/A
66Lincoln Nebraska68508, 68510
1,3312,34857%N/AN/A
67St. Louis Missouri63101, 631021,2363,83632%N/A144,750
68SpokaneWashington
99201, 992021,114
3,183
35%$10955,938
69Wichita Kansas67202, 67203, 672141,0445,52119%$8635,676
70Tucson Arizona857019691,74456%N/AN/A
71Lubbock Texas79401, 79411
9563,23530%$120N/A
72Albuquerque New Mexico87102, 871049313,43827%$127101,502
73TacomaWashington
984029242,67535%$19847,390
74Corpus Christi Texas78401, 78404, 78405, 78407, 78408, 78409, 78411, 78415, 78416, 784179027,87811%$100210,720
75Spring Valley Nevada89103, 8914786818,3175%$12476,068
76Chandler Arizona852257664,94016%$126256,800
77San Francisco California94104, 94108, 94111, 941336874,37416%$353101,853
78Chesapeake Virginia233226781,22056%$121N/A
79Lexington Kentucky40507, 40508
6183,27119%$9859,797
80Tulsa Oklahoma74103, 74119
5581,67833%$8187,519
81Honolulu Hawaii96813, 96817
5466,9068%$51131,321
82Colorado Springs Colorado80903, 80904, 80905
5043,00617%$13218,149
83Buffalo New York14202, 14203
4802,00424%N/AN/A
84Queens New York11355, 11354
4789,6175%$238252,561
85Stockton California95202, 95203, 95204, 95205, 95206
4463,27914%$130N/A
86Mesa Arizona852014446,3877%$123N/A
87Toledo Ohio436044093,25313%$98159,934
88Greensboro North Carolina27401, 27403
4073,48912%$141N/A
89Santa Ana California927013992,57116%$199N/A
90Fort Wayne Indiana468023561,23529%$120127,853
91Chula Vista California91910, 91911
35211,4613%$18047,774
92Fresno California93706, 93721
2652,15112%$76N/A
93El Paso Texas799012581,19922%N/AN/A
94Bakersfield California933012371,58115%$71N/A
95Gilbert Arizona852342281,28718%$115171,029
96Riverside California9250120581025%$144N/A
97Glendale Arizona853011808,8742%$10791,216
98Hialeah Florida3301017582021%$121197,659
99North Las Vegas Nevada890301202,9184%$91N/A
100Anchorage Alaska99501501,9572%$220N/A

StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data

Expert Opinion

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager - Yardi Matrix

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix
Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at 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.

Methodology

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.

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Author

Maria Gatea is a creative writer for StorageCafe and RentCafe with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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