Historic, of course, because it’s where New York City was born centuries ago, the Financial District is still one of the most important commercial real estate markets in the world, and by itself the fourth largest in the entire country. Even as its pre-war towers have been rendered obsolete for large Class A tenants, residential conversions and smaller Class B and C tenants have met with great success in turning the Financial District into a twenty-four/seven destination for office workers, residents, and retailers.
Once home to the capital of the fledgling United States in the 18th century, the 21st-century Financial District is still home to the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank, and countless headquarters for some of the world’s most important banks and financial institutions. With easy access to the federal and state courts just to the north, the Financial District is also a popular location for law firms. And because it pre-dates the 1814 Commissioner’s Plan (which imposed the uniform Manhattan grid system above 14th Street), the Financial District’s twists and turns make pedestrian access to its numerous subway lines into the rest of the city an easy walk from anywhere.
Overall current inventory in the Financial District submarket is approximately 40 million square feet. As of the first quarter 2012, the vacancy rate was 14 percent, so office space is a particularly good value: average asking Class A rents are in the neighborhood of $40 per square foot, while average asking rents are $35 per square foot.