For the purposes of this report, Downtown is defined as Manhattan, south of 14th Street, west of the Bowery and Pearl Street, and south of the Brooklyn Bridge. This area, which is equivalent to the combined catchments of Community Boards 1 and 2, includes Battery Park City, the Financial District, the South Street Seaport, Tribeca, SoHo, Greenwich Village, and the West Village, as well as parts of Little Italy and Chinatown.
Between 2010 and 2016 (the period analyzed by Mr. Stringer’s study), the total local population has grown by 11 percent, from 140,369 to 155,433. But the biggest growth has been at the extremes of age distribution, with the cohort of residents under 18 jumping by 26 percent (to 21,751) and the bracket of those over 66 increasing by 24 percent (to 16,250). Those in the middle (aged 19 to 65) are still the largest group (with a tally of 117,432), but their growth has barely kept pace, with their numbers expanding by only seven percent.
In terms of educational achievement, the reports documents that 83 percent of local residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 60 percent for Manhattan as a whole, and 36 percent for all of New York City.
The study notes that local residents have a median household income of $124,389, the highest such figure for any of the 55 communities around the City that were studied. Moreover, the local population in two categories of high earners has swollen, with the headcount of people taking home more than $75,000 spiking by 19 percent (to a total of 58,860), and those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 jumping by 22 percent (to 16,612).
During the same period, the populations of two lower-income tranches declined nearly as dramatically: The number of people with income between $25,000 and $50,000 decreased by 17 percent (to 12,505 wage earners), while those making less than $25,000 dwindled by seven percent (to 29,045 persons). This appears to indicate that the ongoing gentrification of Lower Manhattan is driving out less affluent residents at a relentless pace.
How residents roll has also morphed: The tally of residents who walk to work (which seems to indicate that such people are employed locally) has jumped by 21 percent, while the roster of those who work at home increased by exactly the same margin.
Mr. Stringer’s report finds that the biggest shifts in the business landscape of Lower Manhattan has occurred in the hotel industry, which has jumped from 46 establishments to 70 (an increase of 52 percent) in six years. Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest contraction has been in finance and insurance, a sector that shrank from 1,691 businesses to 1,463 during the same period (a retracement of 13 percent). Retail banks have also retreated from Lower Manhattan, shriveling from 205 branches eight years ago, to just 181 two years ago (a decline of 12 percent).
In a sobering portent of the community’s transformation, the number of tax lots (another name for plots of land) devoted to stand-alone retail establishments (which generally means a small business, housed in a small building) has declined from 543 to 245 — a diminution of 55 percent. This may indicate that individually owned shops are rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Lower Manhattan, as the parcels they occupy are bought by developers, and used for large new towers. Although the resulting structures often contain significantly more retail space than the buildings they replace, such stores are rarely rented to small proprietors — almost always going instead to large, national chains.
“The economic growth in our neighborhoods is good news,” Mr. Stringer said, “but only if it means real opportunities for the working families, seniors, and immigrants who built these communities in the first place. This report clearly shows that local residents are getting left behind as already struggling New Yorkers are finding it harder than ever to afford living here.”