All posts by NYBusDist

High Costs of NY Construction

The high cost of construction in New York long been an undisputed fact.  But now – with two schools being built at the same time in neighboring states (one in New York and one in New Jersey), the exceptionally high price of New York construction is being evidenced even more noticeably. 

The Bronx school – serving elementary age students – will be built next to the South Bronx Educational Complex and will feature four floors, 15 regular classrooms, 2 district special ed classrooms, a reading room, speech resource rooms, 4 re-K classrooms and 3 kindergarten classrooms. That is costing approximately $70m

The Jersey City School – BelovED Charter High School – is expanding 53,000 square feet to serve a further 480 students will cost around $12.5m. This means that per square foot, the school expansion in New York is more than $1,500 per square foot and the New Jersey one totals just $250 per square foot.

Even though the New Jersey school is run privately it received tax-exempt bonds to finance its construction using local labor and wages. Co-founder and head of marketing at  Stephen Smith Real Estate, a New York based real estate firm said:

“The city is very difficult to work with. The pool of contractors and vendors is not as large as in private construction. High cost in construction is a problem at every level of government in New York. And there seems to no interest from politicians in understanding these high costs.”

Indeed, it does appear that New York construction costs are ranked as some of the highest in the world.

New York: Bringing Back the Tourists

It is time for tourists to start touring again. We’ve had over 18 months of extremely reduced travel but now that the vaccines are widespread and numbers are going down, it is important for people to start traveling again…both for business and leisure.

In fact, getting people back to New York has become such a huge mission that print media throughout the world (England, Canada, Europe and Asia) have been publishing ads promoting the art scene in New York.  The wording in the ad reads:

“We reopened in August 2020, but have been missing one critical thing — you, our international visitors. The Met is only The Met when it is being enjoyed daily by visitors from around the world.”

This kind of ad is not something that is generally done.  Global advertisements like this do not really have a place in the promotion of city’s museums. But with the borders reopening (having been closed since March 2020 more-or-less), it is time for people to come back.  As we know, leisure and tourism were two industries that probably suffered the most because of the pandemic, so now it is crucial that anything that can facilitate their return be put in place.  Global Communications VP at NYC& Company, Chris Hopwood said:

“It’s crucial that we recover this segment. Arts and culture are going to lead our recovery. That is the backbone.”

The $450 million “Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs” recovery package for the tourism industry that Governor Kathy Hochul just announced at the Museum of Natural History will be sure to be helpful too.  Hochul pointed out that the entire industry is indicative of what makes New York unique and without it coming back, “New York can’t come back.”

Let’s hope the tourism and leisure industries in New York come back better than ever.

New York Elects Second Black Mayor

Eric Adams has been elected as Democrat Mayor of New York.  The second ever Black Mayor and a former captain of the NYPD, Adams is no stranger to adversity. Growing up in poverty, at 15 years old he was assaulted in the basement of a police station by the very official hired to protect its citizens – a policeman.

A lot has transpired since then.  He became a state senator for four terms (2006-2013) where he fought for those who did not have a voice (like the blacks and others who felt omitted from political discussions). This – together with the fact that he is Brooklyn’s borough president – will give Adams the necessary tools to head the Mayoral office.

Adams ran on a platform of obliterating gun violence within a larger framework of public safety; NYPD budgetary cuts; job industry transfer from officer to civilians (which he believes could result in an annual $500m save for the city); the possibility of bringing back plainclothes anti-crime unit.  This was dismantled by the previous administration as it became controversial.

He is already working on this with his money raising from real estate and Wall Street, as part of his commitment to business leaders on how much the city needs them.  As he said in his campaign in his address to the business community:

“Please stay in New York; I need more of you guys than I need AOC-types,” while trying to reduce concerns of business leaders about police not being able to do their jobs.

Helping New York Kids Make Smart Investments

College fees can be extremely cumbersome.  Even for the wealthiest of parents, once you are putting 2 or more kids through college, the idea of the loans and debts are enough to make anyone feel anxious. 

Which is why a new 529 Savings Plans Baby Bonds initiative taken by New York City is an extremely welcome one.  Unfortunately, not enough eligible parents know about how the 529 savings plans can be applied to the future education of their child.  But what it translates to is how the American government is giving preferential treatment to these 529 plans for 25 years.

The way it works – and it’s working right now in New York City – is that every single kid who attends a public school kindergarten has now been given a college savings account with their first installment from the city…$100. The idea is that by the time they get to college they will have an account of $3,000.

While a four year public college will cost more than $10,000, at least this is a start.

In addition, there was Biden’s pitch for ‘Build Back Better’ Connecticut plan, to increase investments in childcare. Since the challenges of the expense of this are such a heavy burden, this has resulted in keeping many American families faring less well than they should economically.

Upcoming SALT Conference

SALT – one of the most notable hedge fund conferences, usually held in Vegas – was held last week in New York City.  While it had gained a reputation (especially being held at the luxurious casino Bellagio hotel in Vegas) as being full of entertainment, 2021 had a slightly different feel.

New York’s Javits Center Expansion opened its doors for the first time, hosting the event in partnership with BattleFin (alternative data space firm).  At the 3 day event, industry executives and thought leaders collaborated on a wide range of subjects, with a particular focus on:

  • Alternative investments
  • Bitcoin
  • Fintech
  • Healthcare
  • Infrastructure
  • Sustainability.

The SALT Conference was first inaugurated in 2009 by Anthony Scaramucci, a co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital.  Of this year’s conference, he explained (insert this link:)

“Our goal has always been to empower big, important ideas and foster a community to address shared challenges. We’re also bringing SALT to NYC for the first time to help spur revitalization efforts in the city, and want to demonstrate leadership by returning to some semblance of normalcy while maintaining a safe environment for our attendees.”

Some of the featured speakers included: Jeb Bush, Steve Cohen (owner of the Mets), Ray Dalio (of Bridgewater), Paris Hilton (with fiancé Carter Reum), Jeb Bush and General H.R. McMaster among others.

New York Transport

Since so many people are now working from home, large transport infrastructures in are no longer in the same kind of usage.  This can be seen very clearly in New York City and has led to three of the busiest commuter railroads (the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and N.J. Transit) in the country having to adapt to something altogether new.

Some of the changes include: substantially less time in operation, reduced services, a drop in the price of fares and new kinds of tickets being offered. While this is a good response to the decreased demand in commuter travel, the problem of how to bolster revenue given the losses incurred in the pandemic remain. Plus, given the fact that it is looking more likely that commuters will not be returning to a 5-day a week in-house work week, the struggle will continue.  Washington’s Eno Center for Transportation president Robert Puentes pointed out:

“The commuter railroads have been really hammered during the pandemic. It’s hard to overstate the transformations that are happening because of this pandemic.”

So what will be the future of transport? Perhaps e-scooters are the answer? Lime is now working with the scooter sharing pilot program from NYC DOT and will be operating 1,000 e-scooters in NYC. The program is putting a lot of emphasis on affordability, safety and sustainability. This will hopefully provide a much easier way of transporting people around the city. 

Users will access their scooters via the Lime app, scanning the scooter’s QR code to begin a ride. To end the ride they take a picture of the scooter showing it is parked properly. The fastest they go is 15mph but new users will have to go at 10mph for their first three rides as they get used to it. 

Wayne Ting, CEO of Lime said:

“Lime is honored and grateful to once again serve New Yorkers, and we’re excited to get rolling with shared electric scooters in the East Bronx. Today is the culmination of years of community outreach, establishing trust and building meaningful relationships to finally bring a shared scooter programme to New York City, and we look forward to continuing to earn the trust of all New Yorkers over the coming months and years. Our scooters will provide East Bronx residents and visitors with safe, affordable and accessible transportation to get around their neighbourhoods, all while reducing congestion and connecting people to public transit. We’re laser-focused on operating a safe and equitable micromobility programme in the greatest city in the world, as we hope to demonstrate to cities globally the tremendous benefits of shared electric vehicles in revolutionising transportation.” 

JFK’s New International Terminal

A revision to the agreement the Port Authority of New York and New has with JFK Millennium Partners has been made.  This will culminate in the building of a top of the line new international Terminal 6, anchoring the airport’s northside.

While the project was meant to begin last year, due to COVID-19 air travel restrictions it was postponed.  Since then there has been some restructuring which is a positive step in the ambitious JFK transformation.

Governor Cuomo explained:

“The transformation of JFK Airport into a world-class gateway is another distinct testament to New York’s comeback and to our determination to build back better. This historic private investment will not only fortify New York’s reputation as our nation’s front door to the world, but also sets an example for how this country can tackle bold infrastructure projects that will jumpstart our economy with thousands of good-paying jobs even amid profound challenges like the pandemic.” 

The terminal will connect to Terminal 5 and be able to hold 10 new gates, check-in halls, arrival spaces and more, all designed to enhance customer experience.

Pandemic Help for Local Restaurants

As we know, eateries were one of the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.  Many of them didn’t survive, despite federal aid.  Some are still struggling tremendously.   In New York, commitments are now underway to try to offer assistance in the hope that restaurants will be able to get through the pandemic.

New York State has just launched the New York State’s $35 million Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit Program as part of the New York State FY 2022 Budget.  This was put in place as a way to create more jobs and offer relief to the restaurants severely impacted by the pandemic. 

Basically there will be a tax credit to encourage large scale and fast hiring of restaurant workers. For those restaurants that qualify for the aid, this translates into up to $5,000 tax credit for each new hire, up to $50,000 in tax credits for each business.   

On this new initiative Governor Cuomo said:

“New York’s restaurants are not only the best in the world, they are vital to the state’s economy, employing thousands of people and showcasing cuisines that reflect our great diversity. Restaurants also serve as an entrepreneurial outlet and are often families’ gateways to the American Dream. The restaurant industry was among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health and safety concerns restricted many of its service operations. With the state’s COVID-19 restrictions lifted, restaurants opening to full capacity, and tables filling up, this will support the much-needed hiring of workers by these establishments to meet their increased demand.” 

Brooklyn cocktail bar and restaurant co-owner Ivy Mix shared her experiences with CBS.  She said

“The last few months have been very promising, after a year and a half of going into the red. Now it’s, ‘Oh god, is this going to be it?’ again. Last night was one of the worst nights we’ve had in months, and it was a beautiful night. “It’s worrying — if that’s forever, if that’s my next year.”

This was just after the CDC’s reports about the severity of the Delta variant and how it was raging through the nation.