The Alliance for Downtown New York, the business improvement district serving Lower Manhattan south of Chambers Street, recently released survey results demonstrating Lower Manhattan’s continued transformation into a community that supports and desires a sustainable lifestyle.

According to the survey— available by clicking here — 30 percent of respondents walk to work, compared to 26 percent of area residents who walked to work in 2007. A full 14 percent of respondents work from home, compared to 10 percent in 2007.

Many respondents indicated they live in Lower Manhattan because of the area’s easy access to mass transportation. Approximately 82 percent of survey respondents cited mass transportation as an important factor in their choice to live Downtown, a significant increase from 67 percent of respondents in 2007.

The waterfront and Lower Manhattan’s many parks and public space also play a major role in luring residents to Lower Manhattan. According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents noted that access to the waterfront, parks and public spaces was a primary reason to live Downtown, compared
to 49 percent in 2007.

Lower Manhattan has long been an internationally recognized premier business district address and tourist destination. And the Downtown Alliance’s survey of its residential population provides a valuable snapshot of this successful community:

• The overwhelming majority of current residents (88 percent) plan on staying in Lower Manhattan for at least the next three years;
• Nearly half of residents, or 47 percent, own their apartments, an increase from 40 percent ownership in 2007;
• Lower Manhattan’s average and median household incomes are very high at $188,000 and $143,000 respectively;
• A full 41 percent of Lower Manhattan residents work in Lower Manhattan, and overall residents’ average commute time is only 22 minutes; and,
• 87 percent of survey respondents said that the area’s overall quality of life was a key reason for choosing to live in Lower Manhattan; trailed by 84 percent who cited the quality of their apartment; 82 percent, access to mass transit; and 81 percent, area safety.

“This survey highlights a model for a more sustainable lifestyle that can be achieved in a neighborhood like Lower Manhattan,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance. “Lower Manhattan is a residential community of choice, and this will increase as more and more people recognize the benefits of living in a community where one can walk to work and easily access mass transit.”

More than 25,000 people lived Downtown on Sept. 11, 2001. The population grew to 44,700 people by 2007, and since then, Lower Manhattan’s housing inventory has grown by more than 6,000 condominium and rental apartment units. An estimated 55,000 people — a 14 percent jump from three years ago — live south of Chambers Street, more than double the population pre-9/11.

Among the highlights of the survey:
Putting Down Roots
• Residents have shown a stronger commitment to the area. Many of the people who moved to Lower Manhattan as renters have stayed and purchased a home.
• Nearly two-thirds have lived in the area for five or more years.
• The overwhelming majority plan to continue living here for at least the next three years — a trend that continues to grow.
• About 88 percent of respondents plan to remain Downtown for at least three more years, compared to 82 percent in 2007 and 77 percent in 2004.
• The incidence of homeownership in Lower Manhattan is increasing, with 47 percent of survey respondents indicating they were homeowners, up from 40 percent in 2007.
• Respondents’ high satisfaction with Lower Manhattan is exhibited by the fact that two-thirds of renters in the survey expressed an interest in buying a home Downtown.

• Lower Manhattan is home to more couples and households with children than singles and roommates. About 23 percent of households Downtown have children under the age of 18.
• The number of Lower Manhattan households with children likely will continue to rise as 40 percent of households without children responded that they were likely to have children in the next three
• This trend remains strong compared to 2007 when 39 percent of those surveyed were likely to have children over the same time period.

Highly Educated with High-Paying Jobs
• Lower Manhattan’s population is affluent and well-educated. On average, 85 percent have a college degree, and 42 percent have done post-graduate work, compared with 39 percent of residents citywide and 57 percent in Manhattan who have college degrees.
• With an average household income of $188,000 and a median income of $143,000, the typical household in Lower Manhattan boasts income levels significantly greater than Manhattan overall.
• Downtown residents work in a variety of industries. The FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate) was the top employer at 29 percent; creative services firms (including advertising, public
relations, publishing, film, broadcasting and arts) accounted for 14 percent of residents; and business services companies (legal and accounting firms) employed 14 percent.
• Lower Manhattan was home to a sizeable constituency of entrepreneurs — 23 percent were self-employed and 14 percent worked from home.

Reasons to live in Lower Manhattan
• The main reasons residents chose to live in Lower Manhattan were: the overall quality of life Downtown (87 percent); the quality of their apartment (84 percent); access to mass transit (82 percent); and the safety of the area (81 percent).
• Other major reasons to live in Lower Manhattan included: access to parks and the waterfront (75 percent); neighborhood character (74 percent); size of apartment (72 percent); and, cost or affordability of apartment (70 percent).
• Among households with children, 76 percent of respondents rated local schools as an important reason for living in Lower Manhattan.

PKS Research Partners conducted the residential survey in the fall of 2009 in three phases: a quantitative questionnaire was sent to 6,000 randomly selected residents of Lower Manhattan, achieving a 13 percent response rate; focus groups were held with residents; and, interviews were
conducted with residential brokers.

To read the Residential Survey Summary, please click here.