The cities of yesterday are dead. Don’t just take my word for it. Look around. Take NYC, where foot traffic is a fraction of what it was. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a way forward. It comes with making sections of cities small towns where residents control what it’s like to live there. Imagine farmer’s markets, outdoor seating, safety, and an involved citizenry. There will be a fine line between places in the cities you’ll want to stay and visit and the NO GO ZONES, much like Paris, France. It will happen. Stick with me.
The Wall Street Journal reports (abridged):
People want to live in Manhattan as much as they ever have. The problem is that not enough people want to work there.
And for Midtown Manhattan, a neighborhood built on the five-day-a-week commuter, that is a problem so momentous that after decades as the dominant office district in the country, real-estate developers and city planners are trying to imagine what else it can offer.
On the residential side, Manhattan apartment rentals are booming and sales are reaching record levels. But offices in Midtown are attracting barely one-third of their pre-pandemic workforces.
“There’s no question that Midtown is going to have to reinvent itself,” said Chris Jones, senior research fellow at the Regional Plan Association, an urban-planning group.
Tourism, upgrades to public transit and more dynamic, pedestrian-centered streets would help Midtown attract the people it needs, Mr. Jones said. “The transition is going to be hard. It’s going to be hard on small businesses and low-wage workers that don’t have the resources to adapt,” he said.
Manhattan was home to one of the world’s biggest and busiest office districts before the pandemic, with a daytime workforce larger than the entire population of Houston. An estimated 2.6 million people worked in the borough three years ago, 70% of whom commuted in from other parts of the city or its suburbs, according to the Department of City Planning.
The WSJ continues:
Now, after two years of remote work, the formerly bustling Midtown office district feels more than a little hollowed out. A peek inside office towers reveals floors of vacant cubicles. Once-packed commuter trains arrive at Grand Central Terminal and New York Penn Station with ridership at less than half of pre-pandemic levels. Restaurants, bars and shops that depended on heavy foot traffic have gone out of business.
In New York, and other cities across the country, it’s becoming clear that even when people feel safe going out to eat or shop, most don’t want to return to their daily commutes.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul have prodded employers to bring their workers back, but to little effect. Keycard swipes tracked by security company Kastle Systems show that Midtown offices barely cracked one-third of their pre-pandemic workforces in the first two weeks of March, despite falling Covid-19 infection rates.
Originally posted on Your Survival Guy.