New information shows vitality coming back to Center City

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There are signs that more people are coming into Center City both for play and for work.

New information out from the Center City District shows that overall pedestrian traffic is up 7% since January.

On the 1600 and 1800 blocks of Market Street and the 1700 block of John F. Kennedy Boulevard, pedestrians increased by 148% from January to June.

"It's like our first professional lunch together," said Ayasha Hassan, from Center City.

Two coworkers out for their lunch break said they recently got back to the office three weeks ago but on a modified schedule.

"It's a two-day rotation, so this week I'm in Thursday, Friday, and we will slowly increase the number of days in the office," said Anastasia Musikhina, from Center City.

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While there is more bustle on downtown sidewalks, the recovery has been slower for people coming back to work.

"The office buildings are 150 to 160 thousand people. The health care institutions, not the medical staff, but the professional staff, that's another 30 to 40 thousand. We have only 20% of those people here. We're missing 125,000 people downtown," said Paul Levy, the president of Center City District.

That is still having an impact on struggling restaurants and retail stores.

"I rely on the office workers," said David Rovner, the owner of Coventry Deli.

Rovner showed empty shelves where cookies would be displayed and an empty salad bar counter.

"Some people are working two days from home and three days in the office. We don't know which day everybody's coming in," said Rovner.

The hope is that after Labor Day, even more businesses will bring workers back to big office buildings.

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