Nearly a year after the COVID-19 epidemic hit New York, parts of the Big Apple look like ghostly cities, on the edge of closed storefronts, vacant office buildings, and businesses.
Now industry leaders and struggling store owners are calling on the city and state to turn things around – before it is too late.
“I’m not saying whether there will be an escape into the city or the city,” is about to die without any help. Gino Gigante, owner of the Lower East Sides Waypoint Cafe – said sales in 2019 rose from $ 500,000 to only $ 80,000 last year. .
“But you’re going to see a lot of unhappy people and a lot of empty storefronts.”
As of this month, more than 47 percent of small businesses are closed citywide, while revenue for openers has fallen by nearly 60 percent, accordingly. TrackTheRecovery.org, A database operated by Harvard University to detect the economic impact of the virus.
In Lower Manhattan, commercial office leasing dropped nearly 70 percent in 2020, while 12 percent of business – from hotels to department stores to restaurants – closed for good, data Downtown Alliance Shows.
“There are hours and hours where no one arrives at this point,” Alyssa Morrow, chief operating officer of Soho clothing store The Vintage Twin, quoted the Post as saying. “We are under bare bones.”
Restaurants, bars and cafes are among the epidemic hit businesses.
“We started with 22 or 23 employees. Now we have about 10, ”said Andrew Chase, owner of Cafe Cottage on Orchard Street in Lower Manhattan.
Chase said that in a string of double threats of the epidemic, those losses include a worker who was a victim of the virus at the age of only 36.
“It was just so sad,” he said. “That’s why I care that everyone else is healthy.”
Still, plummeting profits have seeded an uncertain future for Chase and its cafes, despite a GoFundMe cash drive, a loan through the federal paycheck protection program and a savvy landlord taking out its lease quarterly.
Vacancy rates in residential, office and retail spaces have skyrocketed – 21 percent of Manhattan and Brooklyn buildings are vacant, according to data from Richard Ellis, the world’s largest real estate and investment firm Coldwell Banker.
Andrew Riggi, director of the Hospitality Association, told The Post, “New York City had a vacancy storage crisis before the epidemic and has been raised to unimaginable levels.”
A series of government failures only accelerated the process.
An outdoor permit program for the city’s flowing live arts sectors took 11 months to begin, three of the three promised emergency busways are unbuilt, barrier-free transportation, and still have no support packages for tenants , Which collectively owed more than $ 1 billion in previous rent.
The Open Dining and Open Streets program, which took a trail of life in the city over the summer, only came after threats and pressure from lawmakers, while aid and loan programs for small businesses have fallen below $ 100 million.
Fifth Avenue Association president Jerome Barth said New York must solve life’s problems to convince tourists – and those who fled – to bring back residents.
“New York, along with being the safest big city in the world, managed to become the world’s number one tourist destination and we need to own that label,” Barth said, adding that the homeless crisis, high murder rates and There is mention of increased crime on the subway.
“The perception determines what matters in terms of people coming to New York.
Tightening the quality of life issues, the city should be more forgiving when it comes to giving businesses fines and penalties for minor penalties, Riggi said, emphasizing the things that make New York the world’s largest Make a city.
“The city needs to embrace the energy that makes New York City unique,” he said. “We need to continue with outdoor food, we need outdoor performance.
“New York City needs to make a reason to bring people back.”
Rigi and other industry leaders said at Five Borough that government red tape, coupled with complex and inadequate relief efforts, is making it virtually impossible for businesses to bounce back.
“It’s very simple, too many other places to work,” said Elizabeth Luskin, executive director of Long Island City Business Improvement.
“Rules are easy, applications are easy, there is a simple bureaucracy around everything.”
Those businesses already cannot be forced to close if the grass looks greener in other states, Luskin warns.
“If we want to have a strong business environment here then we have to step up our game and not really do it so that everyone just wants to be here,” Laskin said. “We are in a competition. And we’re a New Yorker, so we should win, but we’re not just going to win by default. ”
Additional reporting by Jennifer Gold, Lois Weiss and Aaron Fies