Riddle: What Does Downtown Have More of Than Any Other Neighborhood?
Hint: Want to Buy a Brand New, Never-Used Condo Apartment at a Steep Discount?
Multiple analyses of price trends in residential real estate for Lower Manhattan illustrate an ongoing portrait that is grim for homeowners and landlords, but may augur opportunity for buyers and prospective tenants.
A new study from the online real estate database company, StreetEasy, shows that prices for home sales and asking rents continue to soften. During the first three months of this year, for Lower Manhattan as a whole, the median asking price for condominiums and cooperatives fell to $1.75 million, or a retracement of 11.6 percent from the first quarter of last year. For tenants, the median asking rent dropped to $3,000, or a decline of 22.9 percent.
In Battery Park City, the median asking price for owner-occupied apartments dropped to $965,000, a fall of 24.7 percent from the prior year, while the median rent on new leases softened to $,3895, a retrenchment of 7.3 percent, year over year.
For the Financial District, asking prices for condominiums and cooperatives declined to a median of $1.15 million, falling off 15.3 percent, while the median asking rent drew back to $3,119, a retreat of 16.8 percent from the first quarter of 2020.
And Tribeca saw the median asking price drop to $3.99 million (a discount of 0.7 percent), while the median asking rent dropped 14 percent, to $5,500.
The StreetEast study was authored by Nancy Wu, an economist who uses data science and econometrics to publish original research on the New York City housing market.
A separate report, by the Downtown Alliance, also focused on the first quarter of this year, documents that the daily residential population in Lower Manhattan has recovered to 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, after falling to a low of 66 percent last June. This study also notes that median rental prices are now the lowest in more than a decade. The Alliance additionally finds that while Lower Manhattan currently hosts 33,714 apartments in 341 residential buildings, this inventory is poised to swell by more than ten percent, with another 3,796 units in 15 buildings under construction or planned for development. (About 57 percent of these new homes are currently planned as rental units, with 43 percent slated to be condos.)
These data are sobering in light of a third analysis, from development data firm Marketproof Inc. In a story first reported by Bloomberg, Marketproof has documented that Lower Manhattan already has an existing backlog of 1,433 newly developed (but unoccupied and unsold) condominium units — most of which have never even been offered for sale. According to the firm’s report, this is a greater total than is found in any other community within the five boroughs of New York City.
Of Human Bondage
Links and Shackles, As Symbols of Unity and Division
The Public Art Fund, a non-profit that presents contemporary pieces in New York public spaces, is now displaying in City Hall Park “Brighter Days,” an exhibit of six monumental civic sculptures by artist Melvin Edwards.
Mr. Edwards, whose signature medium is steel molded into abstract shapes, is known for evoking political and historical themes in his work, with a particular focus on the legacy of slavery. In this context, his frequent use of chains is evocative on multiple levels—symbolizing links that unite, as well as shackles that divide the subjugated from their oppressors.
“Brighter Days” is a focused look at Mr. Edwards’ career through five sculptures (from 1970 to 1996), as well as a sixth large-scale piece commissioned in 2020. Each one incorporates some form of manacle. The location of City Hall Park (directly adjacent to the African Burial Ground and the site of recent Black Lives Matter protests) adds resonance to the historical associations of these metal forms as tools of slavery and violence.
Among the most striking of the pieces on display in “Brighter Days” is “Song of the Broken Chains” (2020), a sculpture of welded stainless steel, created for this exhibit. The links in “Song of the Broken Chains” are gargantuan in scale, with broken fetters resonating as icons of both emancipation and breach, ambivalently implying both joy and violence.
West Thames Basketball Courts Open for Play
Play ball! As part of the deconstruction of the old Rector Street Bridge and its attendant west side stairs and ramp, public space for the Battery Park City community has been increased via expansion of the Liberty Community Gardens and adjacent basketball courts.
The final portion of this project is the painting and striping of the court surface, currently scheduled to begin the end of this week. This work will necessitate closing of the courts and take (weather permitting) roughly two weeks to complete.
In the interim, as of Friday, May 7 the nets have been installed and the courts are available for play.
Inn and Out
FiDi’s Moxy Hotel Seized by Lenders
The developers of the Moxy NYC Downtown, located at 143 Fulton Street, have surrendered possession of the property to their mortgage lenders, AllianceBernstein. In a story first reported by the Real Deal, Tribeca Associates—the development team behind several other Lower Manhattan properties, such as the Marriott Residence Inn World Trade Center (at 170 Broadway), the Smyth Hotel and Residences (85 West Broadway), and the office tower at 30 Broad Street—have handed the land lease for the ground beneath the Moxy NYC Downtown back to the lender, valuing it at $108 million. This appears to be in restitution for a $105 million loan that the financial firm made to Tribeca Associates in 2018.
This comes on the heels of developer Leonard Stern deciding in February to hand the keys to a pair of Downtown hotels—the Roxy and the Soho Grand—over to lenders, rather than continue making payments on a $100-million mortgage. To read more…
Tony Stark spotted on Fifth Avenue (click photo for a video clip).
EDC Moves Ahead with + Pool, But Elsewhere
The City’s Economic Development Corporation has followed the urging of Community Board 1 by moving ahead with plans to create a floating pool in the East River. The agency has vetoed the recommendation of Lower Manhattan leaders, however, by choosing to locate the facility in the Two Bridges neighborhood, instead of alongside the Brooklyn Bridge, as CB1 had requested.
The proposal styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”) will consist of a floating dock, surrounding a cruciform swimming hole (with a safety net on its underside), the four branches of which will include a quartet of adjacent pools—one each for children, for lap swimmers, for sports uses, and for lounging. To read more…
City Council Measure Stands to Make FiDi Thoroughfare Pedestrian-Friendly in Perpetuity
The City Council has enacted a law, co-sponsored by member Margaret Chin, that will make permanent the Open Streets program begun by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio as a provisional measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ratified on April 29, the bill is now awaiting Mr. de Blasio’s signature. This measure is significant for Lower Manhattan, because it may have the effect of preserving a local implementation of the Open Streets project, on Pearl Street, where (since last summer) the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has each day restricted vehicular access—between Broad Street and Hanover Square from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and again from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm. To read more…
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Exploring the 2021 theme, the healing power of storytelling, this panel will highlight the unique ability of film to project stories to places they might have never traveled before—bringing connection, understanding, and healing. Moderated by festival co-director Joshua Bell and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center curator Kālewa Correa, a variety of directors will discuss the role of storytelling in their films (participants to be announced soon). Free
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned crooner, the singing circle is perfect for mellow melodies and healthy harmonizing. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: blankets, instruments, water, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free Battery Park City Authority
Living Gallery, curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa and normally produced in the Gibney Gallery, presents live performance of storytelling, monologues, spoken word, stand-up, or creative talks. Each performance – free and open to the public – runs 30-45 minutes, traditionally scheduled within the hour before a dance concert presented in Gibney’s Theater. Due to COVID-19, Living Galleries for the fall season will happen on Zoom. Today, see “Tiny Hurricane” by Jen Abrams, who has been making body-based multi-disciplinary performance since 1994. Free
Landmarks Panel Approves Howard Hughes Proposal for Scaled-Back Tower at Seaport Site
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) to erect a large building at 250 Water Street, a 1.1-acre parking lot bounded by Pearl, Beekman, and Water Streets, as well as Peck Slip. This site has been the focus of debate, speculation, and controversy since HHC’s purchase of the lot from Milstein Properties for $180 million, in 2018. To read more…
Local Public High Schools Perform Well in National Rankings
The U.S. News & World Report has issued its annual national rankings of high schools, and several local secondary institutions, either located in Lower Manhattan or else attended by large numbers of students from this community, have earned favorable mention.
Stuyvesant High School, located in Battery Park City, was deemed to rank number 44 among all secondary schools in the United States, and seventh among all New York City public high schools. Reviewers noted that Stuyvesant has a graduation rate of 99 percent, that 100 percent of its students are proficient in math and reading, and that 88 percent of pupils there passed at least one advanced placement exam. To read more…
Lower Manhattan Resident Charged with Defrauding Millions from Pandemic Loan Program
A resident of the Financial District has been arrested in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a $5.8-million scheme to defraud the paycheck protection program (PPP), the federal loans given to small businesses hurt by the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcus Frazier, who resides at 19 Dutch Street, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Federal prosecutors allege that he filed for almost $6 million in PPP loans, and actually received approximately $2.17 million, based on these applications. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Three Flags by Jasper Johns, 1958. Displayed in Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
1004 – Henry II the Saint crowned King of Italy
1252 – Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad exstirpanda, which authorizes, but also limits, the torture of heretics in the Medieval Inquisition.
1602 – Cape Cod discovered by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold
1672 – First copyright law enacted by Massachusetts
1718 – James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents world’s first machine gun
1800 – King George III survives a 2nd assassination attempt
1817 – Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1862 – The Confederate ship Alabama was launched as the Enrica at Birkenhead, England, where she had been built in secret. Tasked with helping the South in the American Civil War her mission was to disrupt and attack Union merchant and naval vessels. She was sunk in battle by the USS Kearsarge in June 1864 at the Battle of Cherbourg outside the port of Cherbourg, France.
1905 – Las Vegas Nevada founded
1928 – Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in “Plane Crazy”
1934 – US Department of Justice offers $25,000 reward for Dillinger, dead or alive
1935 – The Moscow Metro is opened to public
1940 – McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California
1944 – Eisenhower, Montgomery, Churchill and King George VI discuss D-Day plan
1958 – USSR launches Sputnik III
1960 – Taxes took 25% of earnings in US
1963 – Last Project Mercury flight, L Gordon Cooper in Faith 7, launched
1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary win their first Grammy (If I Had a Hammer)
1968 – Paul McCartney and John Lennon appear on Johnny Carson Show to promote Apple records, Joe Garagiola is substitute host and presents the most awkward talk sow host with guest in TV history An inebriated Tullulah Bankhead adds to the mix with equally silly comments.
1972 – Assassination attempt on Governor George Wallace of Alabama by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Md
1980 – First trans-US balloon crossing
2010 – Jessica Watson becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo
1565 – Henrick de Keyser, architect/master builder of Amsterdam
1856 – Lyman Frank Baum, NY, children’s book author (Wizard of Oz)
1910 – Robert F Wagner, (Mayor-D-NYC, 1949-65)
1915 – Gus Viseur, French button accordionist (d. 1974)
1923 – Richard Avedon, US, photographer (1957 ASMP award)