Why Downtown NYC Apartments Are So Expensive

Published on Jan 30, 2012

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"Downtown" NYC apartments actually span a number of neighborhoods, from the Village (West Village, Greenwich Village, East Village) all the way down to FiDi.  Basically, anything below 14th Street is considered downtown.

Today, however, I want to focus on a subset of downtown. It comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the Manhattan rental apartment market that the most sought-after neighborhoods these days for luxury living are below Canal Street, a long-term trend that's been developing ever since Tribeca unseated the Upper East Side as NYC's wealthiest zip code, and continuing apace with the development of the Financial District as the most rapidly growing residential neighborhood in all of New York City, more than doubling its population since 2001.

Because although some reports point to the continuing appeal of such classic high-end Manhattan communities like Yorkville and Carnegie Hill--both on the Upper East Side, and both with stellar "absorption rates", or the speed with which homes on the market get sold (the faster the better, obviously)--the hottest Manhattan RENTAL apartments by far are all downtown.

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The lures of living in a downtown rental apartment are many, of course. For one thing, the loft-style apartment, with its high ceilings, open layout, and exposed industrial-ish details like ductwork and columns, simply feels more contemporary, and the open space is attractive both to New Yorkers who do a lot of entertaining as well as couples raising a family who don't want everyone hiding away behind closed doors.

In fact, according to some Manhattan real estate watchers, the luxury loft--which, by and large, is the sort of rental apartment that can only be found downtown--has supplanted the Classic 6 as the prototypical NYC dream home.

High-rise rental apartments, too, have become extremely desireable of late, especially of the penthouse variety, and although there have been several luxury towers of note in Midtown and over in Hell's Kitchen, nothing can top the flurry of new construction and commercial-to-residential conversions that hit downtown in the past decade.

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All of the above also means that downtown rental apartments are more expensive than ever... though in one case--specifically, a 3,000-square-foot, three bedroom apartment at 165 William Street--anyone willing to shell out $11,750 a month gets to actually name the building!

But even if you don't care to get creative, the FiDi neighborhood itself has become one of the great perks of living downtown, with such everyday attractions as an assortment of greenmarkets, including the great New Amsterdam Market in the old Fulton Fish Market space; three new Danny Meyer restaurants (branches of Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and a brand-new concept, North End Grill) as well as a half-dozen other noteworthy recent openings; and new parks--the East River Esplanade! Imagination Playground!--and service-oriented stores opening up seemingly around every corner.

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