By Nick Kratsas- KDKA Morning News

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) –  Not that long ago, Downtown was a place you avoided, unless you worked there. Now, it’s a 24-hour entertainment and residential neighborhood, busting at the seams.

“Our market has never been better,” says Herky Pollock, Executive Vice President of development company CB Richard Ellis. “If you look at Downtown and the Downtown fringe area, Class A vacancy rate is around 6.9 percent, and the fringe is 1.1 percent. That’s with 35 million square feet of office space.”

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KDKA-AM’s Larry Richert spoke to Pollock about this tremendous growth in and around the city. One indicator of positive growth is a recent study that says Pittsburgh is one of only two city’s out of 20 major cities that has a vacancy rate below 20 percent. Another report shows that apartment building and leasing is also skyrocketing, as well as restaurant and new business development,

“It’s really a phenomenal success story,” says Pollock. “Many markets around the country are saying “how did they do that? Let’s emulate Pittsburgh.'”

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For a city that was once a blue-collar town, Pittsburgh finds itself a white-collar town powered by technology, medical fields, education, and energy development. And other parts of Western Pennsylvania are seeing growth, like Washington, Westmoreland, Cranberry, and South Pointe.

Pollock says a huge list of new development is coming to the area, like new hotels on the North Shore, the old Civic Arena site being redeveloped, Millcraft building housing in Market Square, hotels in Mellon Square, and PNC breaking ground on new development in the city. He says you won’t recognize Downtown in 3-5 years.

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“(Pittsburgh’s) 6.9 percent vacancy in the Class A market is actually the same number of our unemployment, which is 6.9 percent, which is 2 or 3 points below the national average. Pittsburgh is on a roll, so jump on board if you haven’t yet.”