by Dan Rafter
Does your city’s downtown rank as among the best? You might think so, but if you’re in the Midwest, Livability.com disagrees with you.
Unless you happen to live in Indianapolis.
Livability.com recently published its latest list of the top-10 downtowns in the United States. Indianapolis was the only Midwest downtown that made the list, nabbing a strong third-place finish.
The top downtown, according to Livability.com? Fort Worth, Texas, followed by second-place finisher Providence, R.I. Filling out the top 10 were Provo, Utah; Alexandria, Va.; Frederick, Md.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Bellingham, Wash.; Eugene, Ore.; and Birmingham, Ala.
Livability.com looks at specific data to help populate its best-downtown list. This includes such numbers as the improvement in retail and office vacancy rates, population gains, income growth, unemployment and the ratio of people who live and work in a downtown.
But the Livability.com editors say there’s some subjectivity, too. As they write on their Web site, they need to see a downtown’s skyline, listen to the sounds of their streets and talk to the people who live there.
So, what about downtown Indianapolis placed it on the list? First, the number of people living in the downtown is expected to double by 2020. And by 2017, downtown Indianapolis should see more than 50 new projects, 21 of which will be residential, adding more than 3,200 new homes to the area.
Some other key numbers for downtown Indianapolis: 4.14 percent average income growth and a .8 percent decrease in retail vacancy rates from 2012 through 2013.
So if you live in downtown Indianapolis, you now have bragging rights. But don’t forget that, even though they didn’t make the list, many Midwest cities have their own thriving downtowns. Just ask anyone who lives in Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis and dozens of other Midwest cities.
And some downtowns that seemed to be stagnant are now in recovery mode. This includes Cleveland and Detroit.
The good news? The Midwest’s downtowns are growing. And there’s no sign that this trend will slow any time soon.