Lower Manhattan has become a focal point for organizations that seek to make the world a better place, according to a report by CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. The company’s research indicates that non-profit organizations now occupy five percent of all office space in Lower Manhattan, a high proportion than in any other community. This figure has jumped form 3.9 percent in 2008, during which interval the percentage of space occupied by non-profits fell in Midtown and Midtown South.
Among the recent arrivals Downtown in the non-profit sector are MRDC(a group develops strategies for combatting poverty and improving public education), which took 55,000 square feet at 200 Vesey Street, within Brookfield Place, in 2018. Another entrant is Community Access (an organization that advocates for supportive housing and social services in for people with mental health concerns), which leased 25,000 square feet at 17 Battery Place. And EarthJustice (once known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund), a team of lawyers who litigate on behalf of environmental advocates, recently expanded by 15,000 square feet the space it has occupied for several years at 48 Wall Street. In 2015, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York also moved Downtown, locating their new Leadership Center at 40 Wall Street.
In some cases, entire buildings in Lower Manhattan have come to house public-service groups, such as 40 Rector Street, which is now home to the China Institute, Metropolitan College of New York, the Urban Justice Center, the Grace Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In some cases, the CBRE report notes, non-profit groups have been drawn to Lower Manhattan by comparatively inexpensive rents. In other instances, the lure appears to have been a provision in the tax code that allows nonprofit organizations to avoid paying real estate tax on office space they have purchased, but would be indirectly liable for in rented offices. For example, 40 Rector Street is a commercial condominium, where offices are owned by their occupants, rather than rented.
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