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Is New York City and all it represents a ghostly Gotham?

One native New Yorker and market analyst thinks so.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Has a Marxist mayor, the virus, riots, garbage, crime, homelessness, drugs, taxes, and a brave but defunded police force all brought New York City to a point of no return? James Altucher, a best-selling author, former hedge-fund manager, and city native says yes.

“I love NYC. When I first moved back to NYC, it was a dream come true. Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me. So much personality, so many stories,” said Altucher.

The website Market Watch agrees with him, “Altucher isn’t alone, of course. The New York Times back in June asked the ‘agonizing’ question: ‘Is New York City worth it anymore?’ amid a mass exodus of an estimated 420,000 residents between March and May, when the coronavirus was really blowing up. In July, there were a record 13,117 vacant apartments across Manhattan, according to a report by Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. A year ago, that number was a 5,912. Also, new lease signings fell by about 23%, resulting in a drop in rental prices.” Can the city recover? “No. Not this time,” says Altucher. Can it still be a world financial center? “Not this time.”

Altucher piles on the evidence. “First, the center of the city is empty. Even though people are allowed to go back to work, they’re not going.” He said, “the Time-Life Building in Midtown Manhattan is almost a complete ghost town… Businesses have realized that they don’t need their employees at the office,” said Altucher. “They’ve realized they are even more productive with everyone at home.”

The following video seals the argument. If you’ve ever been in this space you know what it normally is: a bustling mass of teeming humanity hurtling towards the offices of the Great Gotham. Now look at it.

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City resident Jennifer Gonzalez comments, “I feel that ever since Mayor de Blasio took office NYC has taken a turn for the worse. Crime has significantly gone up, and in recent months I have felt more nervous about walking the streets, whether alone or in company of others. There is zero respect for law enforcement, neighbors, and communities. This city has become dirtier than ever, and it’s no longer the city in which I loved and was proud to be a part of. I was born here in Queens, NYC, and feel this is not a city I can continue calling home.” Gonzalez is typical of city dwellers who see New York City crumbling around them.

Will Broadway survive? “We simply don’t know. And what does that mean? And will it have to be only 25% capacity?” said Altucher. “Broadway shows can’t survive with that! And will performers, writers, producers, investors, lenders, stagehands, landlords, etc. wait a year?”

The city is known for some of the best restaurants in the world. Will that continue? Altucher: “My favorite restaurant is closed for good. OK, let’s go to my second favorite. Closed for good. Third favorite, closed for good. I thought the PPP was supposed to help. No? What about emergency relief? No. Stimulus checks? Unemployment? No and no. OK, my fourth favorite, or what about that place I always ordered delivery from? No and no.”

Data backs him up. According to Yelp, 60% of restaurants around the nation could close permanently. New York City has been hit just as hard, if not harder, than the rest of the country. The consequences?

“What happens to all the employees who work at these restaurants? They are gone. They left New York City. Where did they go? I know a lot of people who went to Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, upstate, Indiana, etc. Back to live with their parents or live with friends or live cheaper. They are gone, and gone for good,” Altucher explained.

Does all that really add up to a death sentence for New York City as a major center of commerce and culture? Hasn’t the city been through worse in the 1970s and 1980s and bounced back? Not according to Altucher: “This time is different. You’re never supposed to say that but this time it’s true. If you believe this time is no different, that NYC is resilient, I hope you’re right. I don’t benefit from saying any of this. I love NYC. I was born there. I’ve lived there forever. I STILL live there. I love everything about NYC. I want 2019 back. But this time is different.”

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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