Let's hibernate, not become narcoleptic.
The soul of the greatest city in the world---which is already on life support due this horrible virus---is on the line. The city that never sleeps is on the brink of becoming narcoleptic if we lose our vital gathering spaces—bars, restaurants, nightclubs, event spaces, and performance venues. The NYT piece eloquently outlines what is truly at stake for our city in this piece.
These spaces cannot operate within the confines of necessary social distancing restrictions. How can you separate people on a dance floor, at general admission concert, or at a cozy neighborhood bar? Such distancing simply doesn’t work, so we should stop pretending that we can institute a phased interim opening approach in social gathering spaces. Therefore, we must assume that there will be an extended shut down of these spaces for the uncertain foreseeable future—likely 12 months—and plan accordingly.
Our city is faced with two choices at the moment with respect to these spaces:
1) do nothing and let most of them perish because they do not have the resources to pay rent, which in turn will have massive reverberations in the real estate market due to lost rent revenue; or
2) formulate a rent and mortgage assistance plan that will enable our social gathering spaces (and their landlords) to hibernate until a full-scale re-opening is feasible.
Ultimately, preservation of social gathering spaces boils down to short term commercial real estate economics. If we don’t save these spaces in the next 12 to 18 months, it will take a decade or two to replace them. We will inevitably get through this crisis, but there will not be a market to fill empty bars, restaurants, nightclubs, event spaces, and performance venues in the near term, given recessed economy, lack of investment capital, and uncertainty around a future wave of this pandemic.
But don't just take our word for it. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz pushes for a small business "Marshall Plan" in this op-ed.
This requires a plan to wait it out until a full re-opening is possible, not
an interim phased approach with restrictions. Learn more