A recently published article in the New York Times entitled, “‘We’re Suffering’: How Remote Work is Killing Manhattan’s Storefronts,” brought back a flood of memories from my first job in commercial real estate which was an entry level salesperson for Garrick-Aug Store Leasing Associates. At the time, Garrick-Aug was one of the preeminent retail specialists in New York City in the 1980’s and I was very lucky to have a “ground floor” opportunity to hone my skills. Or so I thought so?
The broker I trailed and assisted was Faith Consolo and for those of you who are not familiar with her, it might be worth doing a little research. Unfortunately, Faith had an untimely death in 2018 and much has been written about her.
This little shop was more of the Glengarry Glen Ross variety than I truly wish to reminisce, but I did gain an immense amount of knowledge and experience by walking every street and avenue in Manhattan for two years (in all sorts of weather) and understanding the needs of tenants, owners, investors and consumers. And at that time, retail rents were sky high and attempting to make a deal was more than challenging. And I didn’t make many of them with the highlight being the leasing of a second-floor loft to the Learning Annex at 85th and Broadway.
Now back to this article in the Times. The struggles that both retailers and landlords are having now are once in a generation and not seen since the mid-1970’s when the city was set back on its heels and recovery seemed almost impossible. As we know, the city did come back and even stronger than ever.
The question isn’t whether it will come back or not, because like many major cities across the country, they will. The question is what this comeback will look like because if you look back on those times from the 1970’s, could you have guessed that Disney would be the main theatre attraction on 42nd Street versus what was there?
We’ll get there and unfortunately, there may still be good deal of pain along the way.