LATEST NEWS

Times Square Identity Problem Is Scaring Off Its Clients

It came from seedy beginnings. Is Times Square going back to its roots?

By Jeff Vasishta August 17, 2016
Photo courtesy of Colleen Wright / edaccessible.com

From porn to Pluto, Disney to “desnudas”, despite the best intentions to rid itself from its sordid past, you can almost hear Times Square echoing Michael Corleone’s famous line from the Godfather Part III: “Just as I try to get out, they pull me back in.” The ramifications are being felt high above the street as corporations, appalled by an apparent reversion to the days of yore are leaving and heading to more refined climes.

Related: Real Estate Moguls Aby Rosen And Jared Kushner Becoming Estranged? Let The Billboard Battle Begin

Most notably, magazine publisher Conde Naste moved out of its former HQ’s at 4 Times Square to One World Trade Center in 2014. Since then law firms Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom (moving to Hudson Yards) and White & Case have also left. Now comes news that accounting firm EY, formerly Ernst & Young plans to vacate a portion of its longtime 5 Times Square home (170,000 square feet. Their lease ends in 2022) and shift to the New Jersey waterfront. Word has it that the London based firm is in talks to take up space at 121 River St., an office building in Hoboken.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that Times Square is about to go all 70’s desperado with Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle and Midnight Cowboy’s Joe Buck languidly passing days in its seedy movie theaters. But it has reverted to a bit of a tourist trap with skyscraper-staring camera-wearing folks from everywhere but here. Today’s numbers are staggering. 66.4 million riders entered the 42nd St subway station in 2015 making it the #1 in the MTA’s subway ridership ranking stop in New York. It currently costs $2.5 million/month to advertise on an eight-story-tall digital billboard wrapped around the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Broadway. Even during the recession Times Square occupancy rates stayed above eighty percent, which would explain why Developer Extell spent $46 M assembling the site for a new 445 room Hard Rock Cafe in 2015. So its drug-fueled pimp-limping past looks in no danger of returning.

There are 400,000 people passing through Times Square’s pedestrian plaza on any given day, meaning a boon for street level businesses with 107 police officers a day on duty, meaning it’s one of the best monitored junctions in New York. According to many publications, the pedestrianizing of the area and in particular the sight of teenage boys posing next to bare breasted women has left corporate America queasy and their landlords and brokers looking elsewhere.

The New York Times, reported that the shift away from Times Squares isn’t simply down to ethics. Finance is the main motivator.

“The landlords got too piggy, and the tenants are starting to flee,” said Robert Bielsky, the chairman of Manhattan Commercial Realty, a tenant-focused commercial brokerage.

static1-squarespace-com
Construction at Hudson Yards. Photo courtesy of Sam Hogson / NY Times

Another reason comes down to simply being hip. Times Square isn’t it. Even corporate America wants to sit at the cool table with tech start-ups and fashionable businesses. The new development at Hudson Yards with its upscale stores, landscaped gardens and eclectic food court has many notable businesses, such as the Time Warner Company, all decamping to the massive new development.

Times Square’s predicament is perhaps summed up by CBRE‘s global brokerage chairman Stephen B. Siegel on CUNY TV’s “Stoler Report” last week. “Times Square is going to have an issue,” he said, “…the environment is. . . becoming a little honky tonky, [with] Cookie Monster and these other characters.

“There are tenants of mine who have said, ‘I don’t want to look there,’” Siegel said. “Times Square is seedier again — not the way it used to be [with violent crime], but with street characters, crowds and lighting.”

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

  • AGORAFY
    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China https://goo.gl/PsTUwv
  • AGORAFY
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures https://goo.gl/NZ3zqD
  • AGORAFY
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury https://goo.gl/7TpLk6
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…