New York in freefall as people leave for suburbs

The real estate market in New York City is worse than it was after 9/11, according to reports that show a mass exodus from the city in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

There were more than 13,000 apartment vacancies in Manhattan in July, a 122% increase over last year when there were just 5,912. In addition, median rent in the city has fallen from $3,521 in July 2019 to $3,167 last month, a drop of 23%.

Landlords are offering free months on leases and dropping prices to entice people back to the city, but telecommuting, and fear of riots and seemingly endless COVID-19 restrictions have dealt a triple blow to people’s desire to be in the city.

People’s reasons to live in the city have rapidly bottomed out. Many large companies have extended work-from-home arrangements indefinitely amid the pandemic, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has kept the city under tight restrictions that have kept restaurants, Broadway theaters and other attractions closed until at least next year.

No reason to live in NYC

Even if people do remain in the city, it offers few of the pleasures it has been known for. There is still the tax surcharge that all residents must pay when they stay in the city, however. It’s not surprising that people have decided to get out in record numbers.

Recent riots and decisions to defund important police priorities have combined to skyrocket shootings in the city as well. Many people feel less safe in New York in ways they haven’t experienced since before Rudy Giuliani became mayor in the late 1990s and brought law and order back to the city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has practically begged wealthy New Yorkers to come back to the city from their homes in the Hamptons or Palm Beach, and he has even realized that it’s not a good idea to tax them further if wants them to return, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Still, what is there for wealthy people to do in the city when indoor dining is banned and there are no shows to take in? I think Cuomo is going to have to do better than begging if he wants to see an influx–how about opening up the city again now that infection rates are close to zero?

May take years to come back

Small business commissioner Gregg Bishop was not hopeful for a quick return to normal for the city after months of shutdowns and protests that turned violent after dark.

“I don’t think the New York that we left will be back for some years,” Bishop said to the New York Times. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get it back.”

Economists have said that up to 1.2 million New Yorkers could lose their jobs by April 2021 as many businesses shut down for more than a year have to close permanently under the strain, according to the Times.

“It took four or five years for a lot of the city to empty out” in the late 1970s as crime surged in the city, president of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde said to the Times. “It took three or four decades to bring them back.”

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