CRA has population and real estate issues

The 2010 plan for the CRA that will be represented to the Pensacola City Council has an assessment of the population and real estate trends for downtown Pensacola and the CRA district.

The population of the CRA decreased by 413 people between 1990 and 2000, an 11% decline. Since 2000, there are no reliable estimates of the CRA population. According to State of Florida and U.S. Census estimates, the City may have been losing population at a rate of between 2.4% and 4.3% since 2000. Both sources indicate a loss of several thousand residents over the past eight years.

Trends indicate that the CRA is not viewed as a desired location for raising children, and those most attracted to Downtown Pensacola are trending toward older and more established mid-cycle households. The surrounding counties all have higher proportions of younger populations than the Pensacola CRA or the City as a whole. Young professionals, households with children, and seniors have located outside the CRA in other parts of the city or region.

The areas surrounding the City of Pensacola have much more available land for development and suburban growth patterns are pushing development into areas of the county. If properly positioned, the CRA could benefit from this regional population growth. New investment in retail development and housing units could draw a share of regional population growth into the CRA.

There are only 1,010 single family homes within the CRA, with 152 units (17.7%) constructed within the past 10 years. Building values per square foot have increased from $42.58/SF pre-1999 to the present value of $115.17/SF. The new homes that have been developed in the CRA are larger on average than the homes within the City.

The CRA has a low percentage multi-family and condominium square footage, which is comparatively lower (9%) than either the City (12%) or the County (13%). This is not typical of most downtown districts, which tend to offer a number of higher density housing options (e.g., apartments, condos, etc.) and fewer single family homes.

Condominiums comprise 5% of the new building square feet constructed within the CRA. This is a higher proportion than the City, where condos make up 3% of the total building square footage. In fact, condo development with the CRA has increased 21% over the past 5 years.

Multi-family square footage accounts for only 4% of the total building square feet within the CRA. There are only 3 multi-family units that contain more than 10 units. No new multi-family developments with more than 10 units have been built in the past 10 years. Multi-family development with less than 10 units has also been slow.

Although development of multi-family units has been slow, the 2008 Zimmerman/Volk Associates Residential Market Potential report indicates that in 2008, there was potential demand for 750 new rental multi-family units and 500 new for-sale units in the CRA.

In order for the CRA to grow in the future, a concerted effort is necessary to encourage new housing and apartment development. The lack of housing diversity in the CRA, particularly higher density housing such as apartments and condominiums, create an opportunity for new development in the future.

The CRA should create opportunities and incentives to attract younger households, particularly those in the 20 to 34 demographic. Creating more diverse housing options at different price points is important to this cohort. The lack of modern and affordably-priced, apartment complexes and condominiums downtown is likely creating barriers to entry for some populations interested in living downtown.