In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, Midtown’s landmarks are feeling the strain — and it seems there’s no hope of a Holiday rush to help them out of the mire.
Hotels, usually bustling with tourists and visitors this time of year, are either shuttered or running on vastly reduced numbers.
Crain’s New York reports that The Plaza is closed, along with the St. Regis, whose famed King Cole Bar is usually a source of Christmas merriment. Even the hotels that are open are watching occupancies drop as surging Covid-19 cases put weary travelers on guard.
“We don’t expect business volume to exceed 20%,” Francois-Olivier Luiggi, general manager at the Pierre, across Fifth Avenue from Central Park told Crain’s. “This seems to be the most anyone can do on average.”
In Times Square, the New York Marriott Marquis is permanently laying off 850 employees from its hotel.
In another stark reminder of these trying times, Paramount Leasehold LP, the partnership behind the Paramount Building in Times Square, is claiming nearly $6.5m in unpaid rent from the guarantor of the Hard Rock Café, which is situated on the ground floor and basement of the property.
And offices are eerily quiet too. Bloomberg says “Midtown Manhattan has the feel of a Twilight Zone set,” and quotes Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green Realty Corp., whose holdings include One Vanderbilt, has also phoned tenants. “Many of the people I speak with over the course of the day are not even in the city,” he says with obvious frustration. “They’re just gone.”
Restaurants throughout the city have taken hits, but it’s been hardest in midtown with now Broadway, no tourists and few office workers. Theater haunts like Sardi’s, Bond 45, and Carmine’s are dark. “After investing money in upgraded air filtration, UV lights, Plexi dividers, contactless equipment and so much more, it is just beyond frustrating to be shut down again and have to lay off our staff again,” Jeffrey Bank, who runs Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real BBQ, told Gothamist. “Just like in Game of Thrones, winter is coming and it is getting dark.”
What can be done? Well, as we reported in late October, The Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is offering rent relief for the small businesses at Grand Central Terminal and other MTA locations. Time, perhaps, for other New York landlords seeking to help the recovery of the city to follow suit?