Photo via LMCC
When the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) was founded in 1973, it set out to bring the arts to Lower Manhattan, a neighborhood that already had an established reputation for being first and foremost a site of business, not pleasure. What the organization’s founder, Flory Barnett, could not have foreseen at the time of the LMCC’s founding is that over the coming four decades, Lower Manhattan would face more challenges than nearly any other New York City neighborhood.
From the attacks on 9/11 to the devastating fallout of the 2008 economic crisis to the occupation of Zuccotti Park in 2011, in recent years, Lower Manhattan has been at the epicenter of some of the city’s and nation’s most historic moments. Throughout these events, the LMCC has persisted and in many respects, played a pivotal role in helping the neighborhood transition into the vibrant and diverse neighborhood it is today: a place where people not only work but also live and spend their leisure time.
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Williamsburg, where the L train shutdown will soon take effect, via Wiki Commons
In a city with fewer car owners than nearly any other location in North America, it should come as no surprise that subway access is a key factor for most New Yorkers when they go on the housing market. In fact, many New Yorkers won’t even consider renting or buying if the address is more than a 10-minute walk from the nearest subway. This explains why some neighborhoods, including Greenpoint, which has a subway but not one that leads to Manhattan, and Alphabet City, which doesn’t have a subway at all, have long reported lower real estate values and rental prices that their nearest neighbors. However, there are growing signs that subway access may no longer matter as much as it once did.
While subway access remains important, it is increasingly no longer a deal breaker for developers or prospective tenants. In today’s real estate market, a growing number of developers are pouring money into developments located off the subway line, and many tenants don’t seem to mind. This may also explain why not all developers with projects located along the L line are worried about the pending shutdown, which is now slated to begin in April 2019.
, Mon, September 24, 2018
Via Jeffrey Zeldman on Flickr
Unlike many New York City neighborhoods that have reputations that travel far beyond their borders, for many years, Murray Hill has remained low key. If Murray Hill hasn’t always been quick to flaunt its assets, it may have something to do with its Quaker origins. After all, the “Murray” in Murray Hill points back to the Murray family—the clan of Quaker merchants who first settled the area in the mid-18th century.
Since the days of the Murray family, much has changed in the neighborhood. The “hill” has been leveled, the neighborhood is no longer considered uptown, and since the early 2000s, the neighborhood’s reputation as a quiet and staid residential enclave has also been shattered as a younger crowd has moved in. In fact, for much of the past two decades, at least some parts of Murray Hill have become synonymous with the bar scene along Third Avenue, which is primarily known as a playground for young professionals. More recently, the neighborhood is undergoing another shift as a new era of higher-end rentals and condo developments attract a somewhat more mature demographic.
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, Fri, September 21, 2018
NYC Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach watching agents pour liquor into a sewer following a raid; via Wikimedia
One hundred years ago, the United States Congress passed a temporary Wartime Prohibition Act banning the sale of beverages with an alcohol content of over 1.28 percent. The 1918 amendment later led to full-blown Prohibition, which wouldn’t officially end until the early 1930s.
Find it difficult to imagine a spirit-less New York? In 1918, many New Yorkers, including city officials, also had a difficult time imagining a New York without alcohol. After all, with alcohol banned, the future remained uncertain for an estimated 9,000 hotel and saloon properties. The city itself stood to lose roughly $18 million in tax revenues related to the sale of liquor. In the end, however, New York not only survived the Prohibition Era but, indirectly, had its architecture altered.
Booze and bootlegging this way
, Mon, September 17, 2018
Photo via Flickr cc
For over a decade, a large swath of the Upper East Side was under construction, but for many residents, it felt more like being under attack. As the Q Line was being built—after a century-long wait—the neighborhood not only had to tolerate restricted traffic along Second Avenue above ground but also more dramatic interruptions. Indeed, at one point in the subway line’s construction, underground explosions even shattered the windows of several local businesses. But with the noise, traffic, and disarray of the Second Avenue Subway in the past, the surrounding neighborhood has already quickly bounced back. As per predictions, since the completion of the line, real estate values, volume of sales, and rental prices in Yorkville have experienced an upswing.
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, Tue, September 11, 2018
Image courtesy of Michael Vadon’s Flickr
In 2010, Lower Manhattan was still deeply scarred by the attacks of 9-11. With much of the neighborhood under construction, a high vacancy rate, and few full-time residents, walking around the area, especially outside business hours, often felt like walking through a ghost town. It was, in many respects, a neighborhood in waiting.
Since 2011, which marked the opening of the 9/11 Memorial—and the symbolic end of the neighborhood’s long period of recovery from the 9/11 attacks—Lower Manhattan has undergone a transformation that is difficult to ignore. New businesses have opened, new residential developments have launched, the vacancy rate has drastically declined, and in many respects, an entirely new neighborhood has taken shape.
The dawn of a new Downtown
In 1971, New York City launched a new program designed to encourage developers to build on vacant land. The program known as the 421-a tax abatement gave developers a ten-year exemption on paying taxes if they agreed to develop the underused land. At the time, the program made a lot of sense. In the 1970s, urban decay was rampant, even in many areas of Manhattan. But the program not only benefited developers. Owners who bought units in a 421-a tax abatement building also benefited since the bill effectively enabled developers to pass along their tax break to buyers who in turn could avoid paying taxes on their units for the first decade.
While the original 421-a tax abatement is essentially dead, there are still a few 421-a deals left for buyers. This reflects the fact that several of the condo projects that secured a 421-a exemption before the program was phased out are only now coming to completion. To help buyers looking to take advantage of this final round of 421-a benefits, 6sqft has compiled a list of some of the best deals left on the market.
Columbia campus, via Pixabay
If you can’t bear the idea of living in the dorms for another year, you’re not alone. Unless you happen to go to Columbia where over 90 percent of students live on campus, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be searching for your own apartment at some point during your college years, just like 57 percent of students at NYU and 74 percent at The New School. And if you’re like most students, you’ll be looking for an apartment far from downtown that strikes the right balance between affordability, commutability, and access to services.
To help you make the smartest decision possible, 6sqft has compiled a list of affordable, student-friendly neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn. By New York City standards, all of these are both safe (e.g., reported fewer than 1.5447 crimes per 1000 people in June 2018) and within reach (e.g., on average, three-bedroom units can still be rented for less than $5,000 per month). Using July 2018 City Realty data on average neighborhood rents, we’ve broken down how much you’ll pay on average to live in a three-bedroom shared unit in each of these neighborhoods. We’ve also provided average commute times to both Union Square, which is easily walkable to NYU, The New School, and Cooper Union, and to the Columbia University campus.
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Waterside Plaza, a former Mitchell-Lama Housing Program-funded rental project. Photo via Flickr cc.
A high percentage of working New Yorkers do not qualify for low-income rentals yet still struggle to pay the city’s exceptionally high rents on the private market. While this may seem like a new problem, in fact, it is something legislators and housing advocates have been attempting to resolve for over 70 years. Indeed, this is how the affordable rentals and co-op units offered under the Mitchell-Lama program first came into being, and 68 years after its launch, Mitchell-Lama is still offering middle-income renters and buyers access to affordable housing.
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Image via Flickr CC
If you’ve ever applied for affordable housing in New York City, you already know that the process can feel more like an IRS audit than a typical housing application. While owners and management companies are empowered to ask for a lot of paperwork, to qualify for an affordable housing unit, you’ll need to do more than provide recent pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. You’ll need to share several years of financial, housing, and employment information, and if the developer doesn’t think you’ve provided enough evidence to quality, they can always ask for more evidence as the selection process unfolds. Fortunately, as of July 1st, the process of applying for affordable housing and the baseline credit criteria needed to qualify just got a bit easier for applicants.
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