Interview by Rachel Brunet, director and editor-in-chief of Petit Journal New York
BARNES New York invites you in its series of articles untitled “New York City Neighborhoods”, where you can regularly discover the different districts of the city, in the eyes of French speakers who have settled there. They tell us all about their neighborhood, in their words, their tastes, their habits. Today we explore TriBeCa, TRIangle BElow CAnal Street with Séverine Cohen, Co-founder of the website “Frenchy Moms” and of the Facebook group “Parents of New York and New Jersey”. She tells us about her neighborhood of TriBeCa, on the edge of two other neighborhoods, Battery Park and Financial District.
You live in TriBeCa. What attracted you to this neighborhood?
We left Paris with our two children, very young at the time, almost 8 years ago. After several trips and long exploratory walks around New York City, I happened to find myself in lower Manhattan and discovered this neighborhood. I fell in love with TriBeCa straight away. I am Parisian, I wanted to live in a neighborhood on a human scale with small streets, small shops, green spaces and a real community, I found my happiness in TriBeCa.
You live in TriBeCa, but you feel like you live in three different neighborhoods. Can you explain to us why, when you live in TriBeCa, you also live in Battery Park and in the Financial District?
Oddly, my building has three different entrances and three different addresses: TriBeCa, Financial District, and Battery Park. My daily trips and commute are made in those three districts. My older daughter goes to school in the Financial District, my other daughter goes to school in TriBeCa, and we end our days in Battery Park for play dates. It is very easy to move from one neighborhood to another by walking, and sometimes we even can’t tell the difference between the three neighborhoods. To live in TriBeCa, for me, is to live in three neighborhoods at the same time.
How is life in this neighborhood, its atmosphere? What makes it live, what drives it?
TriBeCa is like a small village full of families with children of all ages, we all know each other: the hairdresser, the ice cream parlor, the local deli, the families … I like being able to say hello to people I know and meet in the street just like in Europe.
You are a mom. How is life with children and a family at TriBeCA? Are there many families?
There are a lot of families with older, younger children, strollers … We like to call TriBeCa the “diaper district”. There are families all over the world. There are no French schools, but in my youngest daughter’s American public school, there is an “after school” program in French. For families, there is a huge choice of children’s activities, gardens, dance lessons, music, swimming, and even a center where families can meet.
You are the co-founder of the group “Parents of New York and New Jersey” as well as the founder of the website “French Mums”. What are your mom’s addresses in your neighborhood? What about wife’s addresses?
I am the co-founder of the group “Frenchy Parents de New York et du New Jersey” with Capucine de Marliave, a mother who lives in Battery Park and whom I met a few years ago while shopping with the children at J.Crew. This really tells you how friendly this neighborhood is! We created this Facebook group to exchange views and opinions between French-speaking families in New York and New Jersey as well as a website with all our family-friendly addresses, in French and in English.
My favorite places in the neighborhood: Bonjour Kiwi for the youngest children with great activities in French. Le District, the supermarket with French products to enjoy a pastry by the water. The Ever After store to dress the children. I love spending time at Target just down the road from where I live and Century 21 to find bargains. I also like to relax in a spa at Air Ancien Bath.
Tell us about where you live, what attracted you, what do you like about your apartment?
Like I said, my building has three addresses. It’s a very tall building but weirdly we almost all know each other. I love the view of the Hudson River, it makes me feel like I’m not living in a big city and taking a break.
As a Frenchwoman, do you find a little European side to this district through the inhabitants, the shops, the schools?
What I love about TriBeCa is that everything is on a human scale: shops, schools, businesses. Of course, my building is big, but around me there are a lot of small red brick buildings and small townhouses. The schools are also very European with playgrounds like in France. I love talking to the people in my neighborhood: they all have an accent like me and a story to tell.
Your favorite places in TriBeCa?
In the summer, I enjoy taking a walk by the water in Battery Park, biking with the kids. Fetch food from the Food Court at Brookfield Place and land on the lawns of Battery Park. In the winter, I like to have a family brunch while listening to jazz music at the Roxy Hotel. I also like to walk around the Westfield Mall during the holidays, the decorations there are magical.
Is this a neighborhood that you recommend for those who want to buy or rent?
If you can buy or rent, go for it! TriBeCa is a super endearing neighborhood, I found a real little family there.
How did you manage the quarantine and lockdown in your neighborhood? Does being by the water and in a ventilated neighborhood give you a feeling of security when you are in the midst of a health crisis?
I have always felt safe in TriBeCa. People are very responsible, and everyone in the building wears a mask. I walked around Battery Park to get some fresh air, people were, and still are, very respectful of social distancing and preventive measures and wearing masks.
The TriBeCa neighborhood suffered a lot after September 11, but it has recovered. Next to the 9/11 pools, I love looking at the Oculus Calatrava which represents a bird in flight. I am sure that after the Covid-19 crisis, this district will recover as well as after September 11. New York is strong!
To conclude, what if you had to describe TriBeCa in three words?
Village-like, family-friendly, calm!
EXPERTS DISCUSS – TriBeCa
Rental Market: With an average monthly rent of $ 5,607 TriBeCa rents out much more than the Manhattan average ($ 4,208 / month). TriBeCa’s rent is 33% higher than the Manhattan average. As of June 2020, the average rent for an apartment in Tribeca was $ 3,618 for a studio, $ 4,714 for one bedroom, $ 6,976 for two bedrooms, and $ 9.397 for three bedrooms. The rent for apartments in TriBeCa has decreased by -3.0% over the past year.
Sales Market: In Q1 2020, the median selling price stood at $ 3.337,000, down 25% from a year ago. There were a total of 59 transactions, down 13% from the first quarter of last year. The median price per square foot was $ 1,716, a decrease of -13% year-over-year. In the first quarter, the median Manhattan selling price was $ 1,060,000. TriBeCa stays one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods.
EXPERTS DISCUSS – Battery Park
Rental Market: With an average monthly rent of $ 5,605, Battery Park rents much more than the Manhattan average ($ 4,208 / month). Battery Park rent is 33% higher than the Manhattan average. In June 2020, the average rent for an apartment in Battery Park was $ 2,681 for a studio, $ 3,585 for one bedroom, $ 5,574 for two bedrooms, and $ 8,264 for three bedrooms. Rent for apartments in Battery Park has fallen by -6.1% over the past year.
Sales Market: In Q1 2020, the median selling price stood at $ 960,000, down 29% year-over-year. A total of 25 homes were sold, which is only a -3% difference from year to year. The median price per square foot in the first quarter was $ 1,254, a -15% year-over-year change. In Manhattan, the median selling price was $ 1,060,000 over the same period.
EXPERTS DISCUSS – Financial District
Rental Market: With an average monthly rent of $ 4,142 Financial District rents less than the Manhattan average ($ 4,208 / month). The Financial District rent is 2% lower than the Manhattan average. As of June 2020, the average rent for an apartment in the Financial District was $ 3,061 for a studio, $ 3,878 for a bedroom, $ 5,516 for two bedrooms and $ 8,068 for three rooms. Rent for apartments in the financial district has fallen by -2.8% over the past year.
Sales Market: In Q1 2020, the median selling price was $ 999,000, a -2% year-over-year change. A total of 69 properties changed hands, up 15% from the same month last year. In the first quarter, the median price per square foot was $ 1,103, a change of -4% year-on-year. The median selling price of homes in Manhattan was $ 1M.
Interview by Rachel Brunet, director and editor-in-chief of Petit Journal New York
Read the article in Le Petit Journal New York