I love New York City.
I really do.
And I believe that there has never been a better time in the history of New York City to live here.
Yes, we no longer talk to each other.
You can live as a shut-in very nicely now.
But putting all of the loneliness and social distance that has been created by our embracing technological advances, think about how your home and your experience in New York have both changed:
Owning a Car
No longer necessary.
Back in the day, renting a car was horrible, almost like going to the dentist or the DMV.
Now with any number of car share companies, the experience has been optimized, as well as finding a bit of a stable ecosystem for the number of cars per neighborhood.
Well, that’s more due to real estate development, but still.
Shopping for food
Leaving to go shopping for food, mostly no more.
Delivery guys have changed teams, now more work for FreshDirect and their snazzy new bags; or Amazon; or, they still work for the Westside Markets of the world.
They just deliver through a middle man app.
Speaking to Restaurants, on the phone
I am old enough to remember yelling into the phone while someone took a delivery order.
I wonder how long people could go without speaking on the phone.
I make lots of calls for work, but I imagine that the answers could vary from 1 day to a week.
Wouldn’t be a shock.
Furniture for a TV to stand on
No Furniture for the TV anymore.
It’s on the wall, obviously.
Going to the Movies?
Why doesn’t New York City have a proper movie-with-beer movie house?
Why does any theatre without reclining seats even stay open?
If you haven’t taken a $18 nap, I mean go to a movie with your kids on 84th and Broadway, you don’t know what you’re missing.
It’s a lot cheaper than going to the opera, though Lincoln Center does have supertitles.
Everyone has a movie theatre in their home for $12/month.
Owning a music collection or movie collection
No longer necessary.
Gone is the furniture to store your DVDs, CDs, Blue-Rays, whatever.
You have a free wall.
Most of the crappy furniture stores in Manhattan- again, maybe that’s IKEA’s fault; maybe that’s just commercial real estate rents going up.
Speaking of which…
Empty Storefront Tax?
A client sent over this article about a potential tax that Bill de Blasio, our beloved mayor, is proposing on vacant storefronts in Manhattan.
Do you really think that this would help landlords put tenants into their spaces?
Perhaps there is no demand!
Perhaps I’m thinking about this wrong, but there are lots of baseball teams who pay massive extra taxes because they have spent too much on their players.
I would bet a landlord pays a $25,000-50,000 tax if it meant that they would put in a tenant that would make them $150-500,000 more than what they were getting before.
Heck- there is a building
on 100th and Broadway that has been vacant for 10+ years!
I don’t see something like this passing in the first place in the city council.
But even if it got passed, I don’t expect that there would be a mad rush of clients who are just waiting for the perfect rent level to open up a shop.
Retail has lots of inherent risks.
Having slightly lowered rents may help a little, but my view is that it would only help at the margins.
There are neat ideas for making retail space more efficient like Spacious, using restaurants as co-working spaces when they aren’t open, for example.
There will be more things like this.
Amazon and new ways of living, shopping and being will be far more impactful in affecting retail vacancy than any tax.
We just need to give retailers time to figure it out.
And landlords will have as much patience as they can afford.
Real Estate taxes are still collected on these spaces, whether they are vacant or not.
While it’s annoying to have 50,000 wine stores, 400 million bank locations, and an ever-present “going out of business” at the cheesy clothing store on my corner, I don’t believe that de Blasio can or should get into yet another business that he isn’t good at: commercial real estate.
Let market forces prevail, please.