Lower Manhattan’s Thriving Post-9/11 Multi-Housing Industry

Ten years after the World Trade Center attacks, Lower Manhattan's multifamily industry is thriving.

New York—This Sunday, September 11, 2011, marks the 10-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. In 2001, after the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed, and thousands of businesses and residents were displaced or forced to relocate, many wondered if Wall Street would ever recover.

But it has. Though the downtown New York real estate market is, admittedly, stressed, this is “more of a byproduct of the downturn in the global economy than a long-term impact of the events of September 11, 2001,” according to the Jones Lang LaSalle report “Lower Manhattan…10 Years Later.”

Years ago, the Wall Street area of Manhattan was mostly filled with businesses, and after business hours would empty out. Now, however, downtown Manhattan is a desirable residential area.

“Lower Manhattan is currently one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhoods in the city, with a population that has more than doubled—to 56,000—over the last decade,” according to the Alliance for Downtown New York’s “State of Lower Manhattan 2011 2nd QTR” report, with a projected population of 60,000 by 2013. Additionally, six primary and secondary schools have opened in the area.

Financing from previous years, including the Liberty Bond from 2001 to 2005, which offered $1.6 billion, and the 421g program, which ran from 1995 to 2006, converted more than 15 million square feet of office space to residential use.

According to the Alliance report, “Condominiums and rental units, most of which are luxury product, continue to dominate the inventory.” Currently, the apartment vacancy rate in downtown Manhattan is 0.7 percent.

“Lower Manhattan has the best known business address in the world—it’s Wall Street,” Nicole Koinsky, director of public affairs, Alliance for Downtown New York, tells MHN. “It’s a whole new kind of Wall Street. It is a 21st century global model of a new kind of central business district—instead of work, what we have in Lower Manhattan is work, live and visit. People want to live in an exciting place and they want to work in an exciting place. They want clean, they want safe, they want access to public transportation, they want short commutes.”

Though the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, will always be remembered, the increased multifamily presence in Wall Street displays New Yorkers’ resilience in the face of tragedy and their hope for a better tomorrow.