“Facebook Inc. is moving its New York office south and nearly doubling its space, marking the latest technology company to set up shop in the city’s Midtown South neighborhood.” —Wall Street Journal
Yesterday, Facebook formally announced that it was moving its New York office from midtown to the eighth floor at 770 Broadway, located in a neighborhood repeatedly referred to as “midtown south.” But we were confused. When did the area immediately surrounding Astor Place (i.e. the Village) become midtown south? Was it when 51 Astor birthed that terrifically lame office building? Did midtown suddenly annex the rest of the world, turning Brooklyn into midtown east and Canada into midtown north?
We weren’t the only ones surprised by the characterization of the ‘hood.
“I am fairly certain that Astor and Broadway are not considered to be within our boundaries or even generically considered as Midtown South,” wrote John Mudd, president of the Midtown South Community Council, in an e-mail to the Village Voice.
Mudd also attached the Midtown South Community Council’s brochure, which includes a map of midtown south’s boundaries. If you’ll notice, 770 Broadway isn’t even on the map.
So, what’s with this “midtown south” thing? We’ll be reaching out to real estate, trying to figure out whether people have actually started to use this term in reference to the Village, or if some poor soul simply made an error on a press release that made the rounds.
Update: Mystery somewhat solved. While residential real estate breaks down markets into more specific neighborhoods, commercial real estate lumps them into three major categories–midtown, downtown, and yup, midtown south.
Midtown south includes Soho, Greenwich, Noho, Union Square, the West Village, and Chelsea, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm. “There’s more of an interest in it today than there was years ago, because of creative companies absorbing the space,” Jonathan Mazur, director of research at Cushman & Wakefield, tells the Voice.
“Midtown south has the lowest vacancy rate in the country–San Francisco is the second,” Mazur adds. “There’s significant demand for that market.”
That market he’s talking about is also known as Silicon Alley, largely because of Google’s magnetic presence in the area. It’s also where tech labor lives. “That’s where the talent resides,” Mazur says. “And the reason why a lot of these companies are moving to this area is really because of the amenities these neighborhoods offer, and being close to the residence of the demographics themselves.”
Mazur couldn’t comment on how midtown south’s increasingly expensive and desirable commercial real estate market would affect residential rent, but he did guess that the rise of midtown south as a tech hotspot would likely drive up the cost of local amenities.
Much of the Village and its surrounding nabes are almost exclusively well-heeled by now, and rising costs of living aren’t new. Still, we wonder about how “midtown south” will affect the neighborhood going forward. No one here has decided to bust out a piñata for an anti-tech, anti-gentrification block party… yet.