The Downtown Alliance has released its yearly analysis, “Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review 2017,” which functions as a de facto report card on the Downtown economy as a whole, as well as significant demographic trends. Among the welter of statistics contained in the paper is one startling metric: the square mile below Chambers Street (the catchment covered by the Alliance and surveyed by its report) now contains almost 242,000 private-sector jobs. The report does not specify how many tens of thousands of additional jobs are held by ubiquitous government agencies in Lower Manhattan, but the private-sector number is striking in its own right.
According to the State’s Department of Labor, there are approximately 4.49 million jobs in the five boroughs of New York City. This means that one out of every 18 jobs everywhere in the City is located Downtown. The same source says that there are roughly 8.17 million private-sector jobs in all of the State, which means that one out of 33 employees, from the southern tip of Staten Island to the Canadian border, is showing up for work Downtown.
Put another way, the Alliance report indicates that there is a job in Lower Manhattan for every 115 square feet of space in the community, although this figure likely assigns too much room to each, because it does not adjust downward for shared, public spaces (such as parks and streets) where relatively few people work. As a result, each job of Lower Manhattan’s “gross employment density” is likely crammed into a significantly smaller area. Additionally, the number of local jobs is approximately four times Downtown’s population of just over 61,000.
“We finally have the same number of people working in the area as we did on September 11, 2001,” says Downtown Alliance president Jessica Lappin. “This is a big milestone for Lower Manhattan and has happened because tech, media and creative companies have grown here, even as the number of jobs from more traditional financial services firms has declined.”
In other findings, the Alliance report notes that 14.8 million unique visitors came to lower Manhattan as tourists in 2016, which is the equivalent of 4.5 percent of the population of the United States.
On the residential front, the analysis documents that 1,100 new apartments came online in seven buildings during the year that just ended, with another 1,000 set to open before the end of 2018, and a further 2,300 slated to welcome residents in 2019 and beyond. Indeed, the Alliance report notes, Lower Manhattan is on course to serve as the location for five percent of all the 46,000 housing units anticipated to be completed everywhere in New York City during 2018 and 2019.
While residential development proceeds at a brisk pace, the creation of new civic infrastructure to support the growing population of Lower Manhattan has lagged. The greatest success has been in the area of schools: Three new public schools have been created Downtown since 2001, with a fourth now under construction. But in other areas, Lower Manhattan has clearly lost ground. One hospital serving Downtown (Saint Vincent’s Medical Center) closed in 2010, and another (Beth-Israel) recently announced plans to shut down. For transportation, the picture is more mixed: the Alliance report notes that Lower Manhattan has gained ferry capacity on the Hudson and East River waterfronts, and the advent of bike-sharing services has given commuters a new option for moving around the City. And the long-promised Second Avenue subway, which recently opened for service on the Upper East Side, is slated eventually to reach the South Street Seaport and Hanover Square. But completion of this phase of the project, which has not been funded, and for which no start date has been announced, appears to be decades away. On a more encouraging note, the Port Authority began to allocate funds in 2017 for preliminary design work on the long-promised rail link between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport.