NYC Taxi Drivers: Government Bailout

The government needs to devise a plan to bail out New York taxi drivers.  That is, according to Bronx and Queens Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is pushing for a financial rescue plan to be made available for the thousands of drivers manipulated into less than legitimate loans.  At a recent congressional hearing about lending, she said:

“This is manufactured financial indentured servitude. And it is wrong. We need to bail out these drivers.”

Other Democrat representatives in New York – Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn B. Maloney – supported the words of Ocasio-Cortez.  There are also issues with New Yorkers trying to make more money by driving an Uber.  their hopes of supplementing their incomes have been dashed due to crippling car leasing fees – $500 weekly for a Lincoln with 30,000 miles on it.  One individual drove like this for three years working for Uber. His work days lasted 16 hours and he had already paid $78,000 for this “privilege.” when American Lease would not relinquish the car’s title, he quit.

Perhaps individuals like Velázquez, Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez can make this their next project.

New York Real Estate News

Charles Dickens’ words from the 19th century could apply to 21st century New York real estate.  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”  Right now residential homes are faring badly in the real estate market, but commercially the situation looks far better.

From 2013 to the present, approximately 16,200 residential condominium units (within 682 newly constructed buildings) were completed in NYC. Today, only three quarters of these have been sold.  There are approximately 4,100 apartments – many in luxurious buildings – that are still for sale.  This number does not even account for the sales over units currently under construction.  There have been some drops in prices of units in towers and these figures could drop even further.

Tactics from past cycles could also be making a comeback: bulk sales of unsold units to investors, condos converting to rentals en masse, and multimillion-dollar “rent-to-own” options for sprawling apartments — a four-bedroom, yours for just $22,500 a month.  The slowdown is uneven and some projects are faring better than others, but for well-heeled buyers there is no shortage of discounts and sweeteners to be had.

Commercially however, the situation looks far better. There have been quite a few impressive real estate transactions in the area.  Examples of this include:

  1. the $7.25 million sale of 2021 Grand Concourse in the Bronx – a 59, 292sq. ft. 11 story building in Mount Hope
  2. the $63,800 annual rent of 39 West 32nd Street in Manhattan
  3. the $2.2m annual rent of 83 Maiden Lane in Manhattan.

In addition, Unizo Holdings – a Japanese real estate firm – is selling off the remaining parts of its New York real estate portfolio via CBRE brokerage.  HomeGoods retail store located in Mount Kisco has also been sold for $6,829,350.  At the time of this publication, the buyer remains undisclosed.

NY 7-Eleven News

7-Eleven Inc. – the multi-million dollar corporation boasting $782 million in revenue last year – has a humble history. Starting in 1927 John Jefferson Green began selling bread and milk convenience products in ice-house storefronts. Today there are 68,236 stores worldwide.

New York City 7-Eleven stores are now offering something extra.  A new feature with its mobile app.  Customers who have the store’s rewards program will be able to scan product barcodes, pay using a stored card/mobile-payment service and also scan a confirmation code post-purchase.  In other words NYC customers will be able to pay for their items from their phone, bypassing the checkout line completely.  Any promotions will be automatically featured in. According to 7-Eleven Chief Digital, Information and Marketing Officer, Gurmeet Singh:

“More people are on the go and looking for faster, easier ways to shop than ever before. 7-Eleven continues to redefine convenience with frictionless experiences like Mobile Checkout. Our customers use their smartphone for all kinds of activities that save them precious time. Now with the Mobile Checkout feature, customers can control their entire 7-Eleven shopping experience. Not only that, but customers can earn and redeem points on a variety of products when using Mobile Checkout. Customers are given lots of options when they walk into a 7-Eleven store, from product assortment and customization all the way to payment methods. Mobile Checkout is just one more way we can make someone’s day a little easier and give 7-Eleven customers a convenient checkout alternative to waiting in line during a store’s busiest times of day. It’s another reason to say, ‘Oh thank heaven for 7-Eleven.'”

Perhaps after last month’s news of what 7-Eleven Inc. did for a new baby, it’s not surprising the company is so successful.  J’Aime Brown was born on 7/11/19 (July 7), at 7: 11pm, weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces. Following the announcement of her birth, 7-Eleven pledged $7,111 toward a college fund for her as well as newborn goodies including special 7-Eleven Inc., onesies!

New York: Living Expenses

Historically it’s been a well-known fact that living in New York is expensive.  Rents especially can be incredibly cumbersome.  While singles have traditionally preferred living alone the expenditure involved in this is only getting worse.

According to a recent SmartAsset report,  nationwide, New York is the “second city where a roommate saves you the most.” Further:

“Roommates save on average $1,056 per month each, or about $12,600 per year each. This means that together two roommates have a combined savings of more than $25,000 annually. Given the sheer number of people, finding a roommate in New York should not be difficult.”

That is a saving of close to $1,000 every.single.month. There are five boroughs in New York and on average, rent for one bedroom in any of those areas is $2,915 and for two bedrooms, $3,717.  Which is how you get to the $25,000 yearly savings figure from the SmartAsset report.

Having said all that there are some less expensive options to help tighten the budget for those just starting out in New York.  Take a look at NYC Mesh – a group of New Yorkers who are building their own Internet service. The volunteer non-profit entity works on donations of approximately $20 per month from each member for use of a high speed connection which can be used to stream videos without any issues.  It works with a super node antenna and 31 hubs in lower Manhattan and some parts of Brooklyn.  Another super node was recently installed in Sunset Park as well.

And then of course there is the co-living space option. One example of this is Quarters which currently manages three of these housing spaces in New York in order to “provide an easy solution for people looking to move into big cities. With an average price tag of $1,599 per month, this is much cheaper and a great way to network.

Pop Up Art Exhibit in Financial District

While the gala scene in New York City takes its annual summer break, there is still a way for visitors to contribute to the economy and participate in a “boundary-pushing technological and entertainment” adventure.

From August 1-31st, a pop-up – SuperReal – has “transform[ed] the historic Cunard Building into a colorful walk-through digital art installation.” Set up by Moment Factory in conjunction with Cipriani, it is located at 25 Broadway.

According to Moment co-founder and executive creative director, Sakchin Bessette:

“Cipriani 25 Broadway provides the perfect opportunity to juxtapose iconic landmark architecture with layers of new technology to create this immersive experience that blurs the lines between the real and the unreal, illusion and reality – SuperReal aims to inspire a sense of collective wonder and connection. We thought it’s such an interesting thing right now to juxtapose layers onto reality, because where the future’s tending to bring us is the digital and the physical worlds are merging so that they’re indistinguishable. We’re adding layers of virtual reality to everything and other realities to our world — whether it’s the Internet, which is becoming as real as reality, or if it’s entertainment.”

Grand Hall’s interior design has been made to transform the visitor’s surroundings, taking them to a variety of surreal locations.  From flower gardens to balloons, techno music to meadow mellow sounds and everything in between, it truly is an intensifying of the senses. The exhibit features a maze of interactive installations that respond to the visitor’s actions, a floor mirror, balloons playing and more. SuperReal hopes to bring “an eclectic group of people who are willing to set their minds and senses free.”

Cheaper Commutes? Yes Please!

One of the many complaints of New York living/working is the expense.  Accommodation, office space, taxes – these are just some of the reasons for the oppressive expenditure people encounter.

So it was thrilling for the author of this blog to learn about the cashless tolls that will soon be placed on the New York and New Jersey crossings.  Recently approved by the Port Authority, there is now dedicated money being put toward the tolling equipment construction needs.  The estimated costs are:

  1. George Washington Bridge – $89m
  2. Lincoln Tunnel – $60m
  3. Holland Tunnel – $60m.

There is a lot of work to be done for this:  the construction and mounting of toll readers and cameras; alteration of approach roads; deconstruction of the current toll plazas.

It is hoped that the system will be in operation by 2021, in conjunction with the MTA’s congestion pricing.

New York: Media and Tax

In New York State, TV/film producing companies will soon be subject to a slight hike in their tax contribution.  New York State Film Production and Post-Production Tax Credit Programs will have their tax credit slightly reduced.  The supplementary money will be put toward a job training and workforce development fund in the entertainment sector.

The monies that will be generated by this small hike will be approximately $1m per year.  With this, New Yorkers will have more chance of gaining employment in the entertainment industry, should they desire.  This will have an impact on growth in the sector within the state of New York.

According to Chairman of NBCUniversal Film & Entertainment Group, Jeff Shell:

“NBCUniversal has a long-standing commitment to developing the next generation of talent, both in front of and behind the camera. We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue and his administration’s continued attention to fostering diversity in the media industry.”

ESRI User Conference

In this video of the 2019 Esri User Conference, we see how New York’s MTA systems work in practice.  We see how such systems – in conjunction with a geospatial infrastructure – keeps New York City moving.

Open C-PACE

New York’s Energize NY Open C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program is being utilized by 150,000+ firms spanning a wide range of commercial properties.  Already firms in Bedford and Saratoga Springs have been using this program which “provides a low cost, long-term alternative to traditional loans to fund clean energy projects in commercially owned buildings.”

C-PACE offers “100% long-term, fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy upgrades, and sustainability measures such as green roofs to buildings through a voluntary property tax assessment.” Funding comes from private firms, one of which is Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Real Estate.

The Climate Mobilization Act (which was enacted earlier this year) will penalize commercial properties with more than 25,000 square feet which are not able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (and 40% by 2030).