“Ten years ago, you didn’t go walking around South Philly on your own. Now it’s where people want to live the most.”
The sentiments of Dominic Catalano, marketing company president for U-Haul Company of South Philadelphia, are evidently shared by others in the City of Brotherly Love.
The revitalization of downtown Philly has spawned growth, with young professionals, families, students and empty nesters helping to lead the resurgence.
Ranking No. 8, Philadelphia is on the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Destination Cities for 2014, its third consecutive year in that slot since cracking the top 10 in 2012. These rankings reflect the top destinations of one-way U-Haul truck rentals for the past calendar year.
While migration trends don’t correlate directly to a city’s population or economic growth, they are a strong gauge as to how well cities are attracting new residents.
Catalano, 33, said many of Philadelphia’s new residents arriving in U-Haul trucks are members of his generation.
“I grew up in the city,” Catalano said. “West Philly, South Philly … at one time the schools were terrible and the thing to do was move out. Now everyone is trying to get back in.
“We have more trains than we’ve ever had. (Philadelphia-based) Comcast is building a second and third tower. The city has turned areas that were bad into areas with shops and restaurants. Everyone is moving from the suburbs into the city, and a lot of kids my age are staying in the city instead of leaving. They’re turning a bunch of piers into festivals, putting up new parks and they just opened up a giant River Walk.”
Philadelphia added 8,800 jobs in 2014 and enjoyed population growth for the eighth year in a row.
Living in the city offers a plethora of options for professional sports fans, while history buffs have access to one of America’s oldest and most celebrated cities. Center City is a vibrant downtown area for arts and entertainment. And don’t forget all those universities: Drexel, La Salle, Penn and Temple call Philadelphia home.
“Temple was traditionally a commuter school, and what we see now are students who want to live and learn in Philadelphia,” Temple associate vice president Raymond Betzner said. “We have now beyond 12,000 students on campus or within walking distance. These young people want to stay in Philadelphia.”
For students and downtown residents, storage space is often a need and U-Haul can help.
Betzner noted that retailers and chefs often bring new concepts to Philadelphia at a more affordable cost than the can do so in New York, letting locals to see, taste and experience many things before the Big Apple.
“Philadelphia’s population has grown for the past eight years, fueled mostly by millennials and retirees and empty nesters,” said Meryl Levitz, president & CEO of Visit Philadelphia, the region’s branding and marketing agency.
“They are coming here for many of the same reasons that more leisure visitors are coming: the walk-able size of downtown, fabulous and affordable restaurants and outdoor cafes, excellent and growing retail (and no tax on clothing), a great craft beer scene, the historical character, innovative performing and visual arts and music, and great parks.
“Add to that the city’s burgeoning start-up culture, lower rents than some big-city competitors and the wide variety of residential lifestyles available … the formula is perfect for a resurgence in the resident population.”
U-Haul is flourishing right along with urban Philadelphia. U-Haul maintains at least 95 percent capacity for its storage units in the city, Catalano said, and its iconic location at 12th Street and Washington Avenue continues to be a customer favorite.
Visit myuhaulstory.com each day as the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Destination Cities for 2014 counts down to No. 1.
U.S. Destination Rankings
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