The equivalent of 1 out of every 26 Americans visited Lower Manhattan in 2014. These 12.4 million tourists, a 30 percent surge from 2013 levels, are just one indication of the ongoing real estate renaissance documented by a new report from the Downtown Alliance. “Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review: 2014” illustrates that the area south of Chambers Street, as gauged by a variety of metrics, is becoming one of New York’s (and the nation’s) premier places to live, work, dine, or visit.
Lower Manhattan’s leasing activity jumped to levels last seen in 2006, with a total of 6.8 million square feet leased in 2014, a 10 percent uptick from 2013. And the businesses migrating to Lower Manhattan are an increasingly diverse lot. The so-called FIRE sector (consisting of firms in the fields of finance, insurance and real estate) accounted for 51 percent of total office space occupied in Lower Manhattan as recently as 2012, but are now down to a 39 percent share. At the same time, the TAMI sector (Technology, Advertising, Media, and Information) has continued to grow, increasing its share of total occupied office space from eight percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2014. (Measured another way, the TAMI sector comprised 32 percent of all new leasing activity in Lower Manhattan in 2014, while the FIRE sector claimed only a 17 percent share.) In a broader sign on the ongoing recovery in Lower Manhattan, employment rates across all sectors are now approaching levels last seen in 2003.
On the residential front, Lower Manhattan’s median rent held steady at $3,669, nearly unchanged since the end of 2013. But the median sale price for Lower Manhattan apartments has jumped 34 percent since the start of 2011, from $850,000 to $1.14 million. No apartment buildings were completed Downtown in 2014, but four (representing 799 units) were started and 11 more were announced. In 2015, some 1,300 new apartments in six buildings are expected to come on the market. This expanded inventory is expected to swell further Lower Manhattan’s already rapidly growing population of 62,000.
And the retail/restaurant sector is similarly robust: More than 75 new stores and dining establishments opened in 2014, while retail asking rose to an average of $265 per square foot, a jump of 17 percent over 2013.
The “Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review” report was produced by the Downtown Alliance, whose mission is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. 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. The shuttle service is currently utilized by more than 800,000 people each year, and is funded in part by the Battery Park City Authority, which contributes $600,000 annually to the operation.