If walking the streets of Lower Manhattan makes you feel a tad ancient these days, it’s not your imagination. The square mile below Chambers Street is now home to more than 21,000 millennials (people aged between 18 and 34), and the median age among all Lower Manhattan residents is 32 years old, according to a new report from the Downtown Alliance. These young men and women are part of a broader cohort of more than 34,485 younger adults (aged 18 to 44), who comprise 62 percent of the population in the combined neighborhoods of Battery Park City, the Financial District, Tribeca, and the Seaport/Civic Center area. This total is greater than in places more renowned as residential magnets for young professionals, such as Williamsburg (with 30,248), Downtown Brooklyn (20,948), and the East Village (27,802). Only the Downtown section of Jersey City seems to exert a stronger gravitational tug on this age bracket, with 31,243 residents.
The analysis contained in the Alliance’s report, “An Untapped Market: Lower Manhattan’s Young Professionals” also documents that since 2000, Lower Manhattan has grown its tally of “nonfamily households” more than any other community in the five boroughs. (These are defined by the federal government as dwellings in which residents either live alone or share quarters with unrelated individuals.) Although hipster havens like Williamsburg, Chelsea and Greenpoint are not far behind, fully 60 percent of Lower Manhattan’s households are characterized as being home to roommates or singles, compared to a 36% share within Manhattan overall.
And many of the post-college crowd gravitate to a handful of addresses. As the Alliance report notes, more than half of Lower Manhattan’s 18-to-44 year olds are concentrated directly south of the World Trade Center, or east of Broadway, between Fulton Street to Exchange Place. Twelve of the 20 largest residential buildings in Lower Manhattan are located within these geographic swaths, including the 650-unit building at Two Gold Street, the 576-unit tower at 200 Water Street and the 398-unit building at 90 Washington Street.
But if Downtown’s population of recent college graduates is swelling, its tally of soon-to-be grads is dwindling. As of the last census, there was a total of 4,893 college students residing in Lower Manhattan, with an estimated 38 percent living in four student residences totaling 1,030 units. This is actually down 21 percent from 2000’s student population count, when Lower Manhattan had six student residences and 1,216 dormitory units. (Chalk this up to a white-hot real estate market that makes it more lucrative for institutions of higher learning — which originally built dormitories Downtown because of the cheaper cost of space — to cash out by selling those facilities to developers.)
While young folks don’t generally can’t match people a decade or so older in disposable income, they often make up for this by surpassing their elders in spendthrift prodigality. So it is that the average local young resident blows through approximately $1,000 per month on dining and entertainment, going out 16 times each month for dinner or drinks, and good times such as those to be found as comedy clubs, bowling alleys, live music performances, or the movies.
But, on balance, they also appear to be able to afford the fun: The median household income for Lower Manhattan’s young professionals is $161,739. This is more than 1.6 times the average for the same age group in Manhattan as a whole, and the highest for that group in any neighborhood south of 59th Street.
The mission of the Downtown Alliance, which produced the report, is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. The Alliance also provides local security and trash pickup, as well as operating the business improvement district, or BID, that covers the area south of Chambers Street.) Additionally, the Alliance and its sister organization, the Downtown Lower Manhattan Association, produce research, information, and advocacy designed to brand Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century central business district. Among the services provided by the Alliance that Lower Manhattan residents especially prize is Downtown Connection shuttle, which ferries passengers (free of charge) between 37 local stops that link residential areas neighborhoods with business and shopping districts.