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Lower Manhattan Thriving After 9/11, Study Says

By Julie Shapiro | August 11, 2011 7:59am | Updated on August 11, 2011 9:07am

LOWER MANHATTAN — Almost ten years after 9/11 ripped the lower Manhattan community apart, Downtown is back and better than ever.

That's the message in the Downtown Alliance's new "State of Lower Manhattan 2011" report, released Thursday, which traces the neighborhood's growth over the past 10 years.

The square mile south of Chambers Street now has more than twice as many residents, three times as many hotels and 130 more companies than it had on 9/11, the Alliance's report found.

While many shops and restaurants were forced to close after 9/11, the dozens of newcomers include popular chains like Whole Foods, luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co. and growing startups like Luke's Lobster.

"Lower Manhattan is thriving as never before," Downtown Alliance Chairman Bob Douglass and President Liz Berger boasted in their report's introduction. The Alliance manages the area's business improvement district (BID), stretching roughly from City Hall to Battery Park, from the East River to West Street.

"Today, the proof of success is as clear as the rising steel of 1 World Trade Center and 4 World Trade Center, which have already changed the Manhattan skyline. …There is still much to do, but we know lower Manhattan will continue to grow and flourish."

One indication of future growth is that 40 percent of Downtown's childless households plan to have children within the next few years, the Alliance said. Already, 25 percent of the neighborhood's households include children.

The Alliance also painted a picture of Downtown's 56,000 residents. They are more likely to live with a spouse or a child than a roommate, they have a median household income of $143,000, and they plan to stay in the community for at least the next three years.

The average lower Manhattan rental is now $3,934 a month, up 33 percent from 2007, while the average price of a condo is $975 per square foot, up 174 percent since 2001, the report found.

In the commercial sector, Downtown's workforce is still rebounding from 9/11, with 309,500 workers, or 4 percent fewer than there were on the day of the attacks 10 years ago.

But the Alliance expects the number of workers to increase dramatically over the next few years as the first World Trade Center towers open, replacing the millions of square feet of office space that was lost on 9/11. Condé Nast has already committed to move 3,000 workers into 1 World Trade Center as soon as it opens in 2014.  

Downtown's top employers remain financial firms and city and state government, but the Alliance found that a more diverse array of employers has begun to move to lower Manhattan, including nonprofits, media companies and creative services.

"Ten years after 9/11," the report concludes, "lower Manhattan has prevailed once again."