Affluent young couples are flocking south of Chambers Street—and staying there—perhaps forever transforming the financial district, New York City’s oldest neighborhood.
The Alliance for Downtown New York, the city’s largest business-improvement district, commissioned a study by research firm Audience Research & Analysis. The study found that 42 percent of financial-district households are now couples without children, up from 32 percent of households in 2004, the last year the Downtown Alliance did such a study.
Nearly half of all new households in the financial district since 2004 are childless couples; 15 percent are couples with children. One-quarter are singles; just over 1 percent are single parents.
Basically, according to the study, your typical new financial-district local is a 37-year-old with a live-in significant other, without kids, in a household (probably a rental, but increasingly a privately owned home) with an average annual income of $256,130. Oh, and this local probably wasn’t a New Yorker prior to moving below Chambers—40 percent of financial-district newcomers since 2004 came from outside the city.
Not only are these couples without kids migrating south of Chambers, but they’re coming in with a lot of money, even by Manhattan standards.
The typical financial-district household now has a median household income three times that of Manhattan overall, according to the Downtown Alliance; and that median has increased 47 percent since 2004, to $162,700. About 16 percent of financial-district households now pull in more than $400,000 annually.
“A lot of people that work in the financial district and work in the area are buying,” said Avi Voda, a top broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, who has listings in the co-op 26 Beaver Street and in 15 Broad Street, one of the more than 30 condo projects in the financial district submitted to the State Attorney General for approval since 2003. “It’s a lot of couples; a lot of them want to be in the bigger apartments, and a lot of the buildings in the financial district are being converted into bigger apartments.”
More than half of the 662 respondents to the Downtown Alliance survey cited apartment quality as a major draw of living in the financial district. And a lot of these apartments come from the over 12 million square feet of commercial space that have been converted since the mid-1990’s to residential in lower Manhattan, according to a fall 2005 report from brokerage CB Richard Ellis. At the same time, several million square feet of new commercial space are underway or planned for the area, including the recently trumpeted 1.3 million-square-foot JPMorgan Chase tower at Ground Zero.
Such development has helped drive the southward seep of the Tribeca demographic into a warren of streets from the 18th century that was barely ever a neighborhood. To borrow overused real-estate parlance, the financial district’s hot.
As many as 22 restaurants have opened there since just 2006, and 15 hotels are planned or under construction there, including Joseph Moinian’s 57-story W New York–Downtown condo-hotel at 123 Washington Street.
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