June 15th - June 21st, 2007
Wealthy Couples Show Increased Appetite for Downtown Addresses
Young, affluent couples are buying up property in and around the Financial District at a faster rate than any other demographic, according to a study commissioned by the Alliance for Downtown New York. The study found that 42 percent of Financial District households are now young couples with no children. Additionally, since 2004, 40 percent of newcomers to the Financial District have come from outside of the city.
Newcomers are not only young and kid-free, they're also coming in toting an unusual amount of cash. The average income of the new Financial District local is a whopping $256,130, according to the study, making Financial District residents the wealthiest in all of Manhattan. Reporting on the findings of the study, the New York Observer noted that the typical Financial District household now makes about three times that of Manhattan overall.
The increased median income among Financial District residents reflects another growing trend: Workers in Lower Manhattan are opting to buy homes within walking distance of the office. With an influx of Wall Street brokers turned Wall Street residents, 16 percent of Financial District households now bring in more than $400,000 annually.
Significant Incentives Helped Draw JP Morgan Chase Downtown
June 15th: According to reports this week, New York City and State provided more than $200 million in tax breaks and incentives to JPMorgan Chase in order to persuade the company to build its grand new office tower near Ground Zero. The new 42-story building is projected to cost about $2 billion and will house as many as 7,000 workers in its vast 1.3 million square feet of space.
The new building will take the place of the old Deutsche Bank building currently undergoing deconstruction on Liberty Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets. Governor Eliot Spitzer defended the tax breaks, saying almost all post-9/11 incentives were designed to rebuild Lower Manhattan's economy, according to a report in the New York Post. "The incentives attract businesses downtown and would be available to any employer who is moving downtown," he told the Post. Construction of the new Chase building is slated to be complete by 2012.
BPC Library, Playground Still Being Negotiated
June 15th: Future construction plans for a new playground in Battery Park and a new branch of the New York Public Library in Battery Park City are among several Lower Manhattan projects expected to be addressed by the 2008 city budget, the Downtown Express reported. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn reached a preliminary agreement on the budget last week, but the details of the library and playground are still being negotiated. Together the two projects add up to just over $8 million. Final decisions are expected to be made this week.
New York Law School Gets New Library
June 20th: More than 30 years of on-again-off-again talks of expansion have finally resulted in a brand new downtown space for the New York Law School Library. After years of cramped space and limited budgets, students and faculty will be able to spread out and enjoy a new building, currently under construction at 185 West Broadway, the New York Times reported.
The new 235,000-square-foot, nine-level, glass-sheathed building will replace the library's former home at 240 Church Street. The old library was sold to a developer last year, leaving students and faculty to make due with a less-than-perfect temporary space. The Times described the current facilities as three crowded, haphazardly connected buildings on Worth Street where conference rooms double as dining rooms and bookstores wind up in basements.
The project is expected to cost $190 million in construction and renovation expenses. The costs will cover adding more classrooms, administrative offices, an auditorium, and small teaching spaces. On its top four floors, the new library will feature a unique design. Here, 200-foot-long glass corridors will run along the exterior walls of the building, encasing a central public space while still allowing passers by to see inside. For more on this project, please click here.
Report Finds the EPA Mislead Residents on Air Sampling Results
June 21st: According to a preliminary report released this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not accurately report the findings of a residential cleanup program of more than 4,000 downtown apartments in 2002 and 2003, the New York Times reported.
The EPA reported that a "very small" number of air samples from the apartments cleaned as part of the program showed unsafe levels of asbestos, but it failed to explain that 80 percent of the samples were taken after the apartments had already been cleaned.
"That was misleading," John Stephenson, director of the GAO's natural resources and environment division, told the Times after testifying at a Senate subcommittee hearing reviewing the government's response to environmental and health issues at Ground Zero. The GAO report, made public for the first time this week, concluded that the misleading information left residents and apartment building owners with a false impression of risk, leading few to enroll in a new residential cleaning program. Of 20,000 apartments eligible for the new program, only 295 signed up.
Potential Increase in Construction Costs Drives Accelerated Development
June 21st: Construction costs could rise as the city's many mega projects create increased demand for labor in a market already flooded with work, the New York Sun reported. Increased labor costs would add to already escalating prices for construction materials, testing the strength of the current construction boom, which is at a historic high.
"The demand is going to get much greater, and we are going to have to do a lot of work to do everything we can to moderate the effects…" Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff told the Sun. Total construction costs have already been going up by as much as 1 percent per month, builders say, which is pushing developers to move quickly to avoid further hikes and causing some projects to be scaled back.
Development at the World Trade Center site is among several mega projects scheduled for the near future citywide. Recognizing further potential price hikes, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has already awarded more than $1 billion in contracts for the $2.8 billion Freedom Tower, the Sun reported. The plans for the WTC towers are currently on budget, but plans for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub are running over, and plans for the performing arts center at the WTC site have been repeatedly scaled back to reduce its price tag.