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Center City District Making Comeback More Than 2 Years After COVID-19 Pandemic Began: Report

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began Center City Philadelphia has made a comeback, according to a new report from the Center City District. Good times are brewing at Thank You Thank You Coffee Brewers.

Owner Cody McGregor opened the coffee shop located at 6th and Sansom Streets just three weeks ago. It's one of the 174 new businesses that have opened in Center City since 2020.

"People seem like they want a space where they can gather and be with other folks instead of in their apartments. It's been good," McGregor said.

It's been a roller coaster," Angel King said. "We have our good days and we have our bad days."

Angel King and Aminah McDaniel also opened their business during the pandemic. They own Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe located at 11th and Locust Streets. This is the second business they opened during the pandemic.

The first was a food truck which opened two weeks before the lockdown.

"The food truck we had a lot of support I guess because we were still working through the pandemic," McDaniel said. "We had a great following on the food truck."

According to a new report from the Center City District foot traffic in Center City is 94% of what was pre-pandemic and retail vacancies continue to drop.

Pre-pandemic the vacancy rate was 11%. In June of 2020, it doubled to 45%.

Now, it's dropped to currently 20% with 42 retailers set to open before the end of the year.

"When we talk to the brokers they have a steady stream of people coming, so not fully back, but very well on the way to recover," Paul Levy, with the Center City District, said.

While things are improving, there are still signs there's more work to do.

There are over 300 vacancies throughout Center City. Levy of the Center City District says some were already before the pandemic. Others were casualties of it but he says things are expected to continue to improve.

"Fingers crossed there are no things that are beyond our control, but I think as we begin to see people with conferences in the city as more employers are back I think we'll be almost fully back a year from now."

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