Protecting the Past, Investing in the Future

New York City’s first “fireproof” building…
The last surviving historic pier in Manhattan…
The tallest building in the world, circa 1913…
A neo-Classical masterpiece with Ionic columns inspired by an ancient Greek temple…

Lower Manhattan teems with architectural splendor and inno­vation — with renowned brick, iron, stone and steel creations that are as much spectacles of daring and whimsy as they are feats of engineering.

Now, many of the area’s most notable historic structures are being infused with new life, as several landmark buildings attract a host of modern tenants, including firms in tech, media and advertising. At a time when demand for these buildings is rising and the market is becoming more expensive, tenants have been drawn southward by Lower Man­hattan’s availability of older office buildings with distinctive character and open floor plates.

Lower Manhattan has a strong history of conversions. Since 1995, 16 million square feet of office space has changed use, creating nearly 14,000 residential units and 350 hotel rooms.

Ever since the tragic destruction of Penn Station 52 years ago, New Yorkers have been learning the value of protecting our great architectural heritage. These conversions not only do that — they amount to a significant investment in our future. Preser­vation and economic development do not have to be at odds. Imaginative conversion allows for the old to stand side by side with the new and become every bit as relevant to the economic life of the city. Nowhere is this encouraging trend more evident than downtown.

The Downtown Alliance recently released a report called “Everything Old is New Again” that chronicles the storied history of nine Lower Manhattan buildings that have recently been reimagined and preserved through significant new investment and changes in use.

The report found that the conversion of older office buildings has provided a counterbal­ance to the new office space coming online at the World Trade Center and elsewhere. In just the last ten years, 10.1 million square feet of older office stock has been taken offline, an amount roughly equal to a fully built World Trade Center Site. This observation was the focus of an article on the report in Crain’s. 

To learn more about these amazing buildings and their stories, click here.

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