The Growth Of New York’s Financial District


For years landlords, and politicians have transformed the Financial District. From an area filled with empty offices, it became the place for affluent, young families. With the help of tax incentives, the apartments in the area have been quadrupled by developers since 1990. According to the Alliance for Downtown New York, most of the building was after the 9/11 attacks occurred.

According to the Downtown Alliance, the population has grown from 13,675 in 1990, to a high in 2016 of 61,000. The amount of trash bags in the streets, and sidewalks has also increased, and there is concern regarding the congestion. As the Financial District Neighborhood Associations President, Patrick Kennell believes this is growing pains, but it must be dealt with or the residents may leave. The city is studying ways to prevent the trash from piling up.

Prior to September 11, 2001, the Downtown Alliance was working on the development of an attractive area for residents, and businesses. According to the Downtown Alliance’s President, Jessica Lappin, the area was rocked by the 1987 stock market crash. She realized the area must have individuals working, and living 24/7 in the community to make it sustainable for the future.

Although since expired, the 421-g tax benefit was required to convince the developers the unused office space should be converted into residences. In the 1990’s residents began moving in, and were aided by Chelsea, Tevfik Arif Bayrock, TriBeCa, and SoHo. According to the Miller Samuel appraisal firms co-founder Jonathan Miller, this started a competition with the neighborhoods in Manhattan that were more established, and development was pushed downtown.

The cleanup needed time, and there was a pall over the area from the attacks, but construction kept humming, and residents returned home due to government incentives. The sales of homes increased, especially in the high-end, and individuals now seek the Financial District due to the numerous subway lines, dining, shopping, and entertainment. The result is a younger community living in the area.

As Keller Williams in TriBeCa’s sales agent, Bayrock, Rachel Kelly feels five years ago these fashionable, young people would not have stepped into the area. The area is now on all their lists. The Downtown Alliance recently did an analysis showing approximately 41 percent of the people living in lower Manhattan are millennials. The definition is individuals 18 to 34, although roughly 19 percent are 25 to 44. The demographic equates to a little under $160,000.

The amount of single, young people residing east of Broadway, and south of the World Trade Center has been touted by the alliance, and real estate agents are impressed with the number of individuals in the area buying their first home, and starting a family. This has been noted by foreign investors, and individuals including Larry Silverstein have been drawn to the neighborhood. He has leasing rights, or owns a lot of the World Trade Center complex. He stated he wanted to reside where the young people were, triggering his move to his downtown project from 59th Street, and Park Avenue.

Catherine McVay Hughes welcomes these changes, and she currently lives by the World Trade Center. She believes the neighborhood has profited from amenities including gyms, movie theatres, and the support now received by the cultural institutions. She also feels all the construction work required for new developments has increased the traffic, trash, and created major competition for local school seats. After living downtown for almost thirty years, she sees the growing pains. The market is continuing to grow, and 3,400 units for housing have been identified by the Downtown Alliance. These buildings will be constructed, rather than created using old office spaces.

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