Category Archives: News

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 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.

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.” 

The Re-opening of Local Businesses

Finally New York state is re-opening. Just one day after America exceeded 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19, efforts are being made to get back to some sense of ‘normal.’  Many vaccine doses have been received and used and now New York is awaiting the ones that were delayed due to the weather.

Bill de Blasio commented:

“Finally, the supply we expected last week is arriving today. That means we basically lost a full week in our vaccination efforts. But it will not stop us from reaching our goal of five million New Yorkers vaccinated by June because we still have the ability and the capacity to do it.”

One of the first things to re-open will be movie theaters which are scheduled to open at 25 percent capacity on March 5th in New York City. On this matter Cuomo said:

“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all New Yorkers, our infection rate is now the lowest we’ve seen in three months, and accordingly we will now be reopening various recreational activities across the state including billiard halls, weddings and movie theaters in New York City. As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy and focus our efforts on building our state back better than it was before.”

Impact of Potential Stock Trade Tax

Should a tax being imposed on stock trades, this could create a huge impact on the entire New York Stock Exchange.  According to Stacey Cunningham, NYSE president:

NYSE president Stacey Cunningham warned on Tuesday that the unthinkable was possible, saying the hallowed financial institution on Wall Street could flee if the state imposes a tax on stock trades.

“While New York has remained a centre of gravity for the financial industry, many employees of ‘Wall Street’ firms are migrating to Florida, Texas and other states with hospitable tax policies. If lawmakers opt to reinstate th[e tax that was abolished in 1981 by the State of New York] at tax, the NYSE may need to follow the lead of those relocating firms. Some of our customers are already asking about our willingness to relocate.”

Still, it has not been put into effect yet and executives from the state governor’s office are expressing opposition to the measure. For example, Robert Mujica the Budget Director working for Cuomo said:

“The only nexus you have with the stock transfer tax is the idea that the transactions occur in the state because the computer servers happen to be here. Move the servers, you move the transaction, you don’t collect anything from the tax.”

NY: Moving Forward

With the pandemic still ravaging lives everywhere the state of New York is hoping to move forward thanks to the vaccine and a hopeful light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel.  According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, there is a need for substantially more vaccines in the region. He is disappointed by the federal government not providing an adequate level of production. Still with the hopeful construction of the mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium, more vaccines will follow.

Since the spike in cases that came from holiday gatherings has now past its peak, there has been more leniency in lifting restrictions on restaurants, places of worship etc.  Yet there still needs to be extra caution taken because of the density of the population of NYC. It is hoped that there will be an allowance for restaurants – in the very near future – to be able to operate at 25 percent.

Personal care and retail stores can operate at 50 percent; fitness centers at 33 percent.

New York Climate Control

In cohesion with the guidelines set out by the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act), that 70 percent of electricity is renewable by 2030, New York will be engaged in a “refocus” of its goals.  Within this, he New York State Public Service Commission has just approved the expansion of the Clean Energy Standard. It is hoped that ultimately – by 2040 – there will be a zero-emission. The state of New York will also be able to make a Request for Proposals for the renewable power generation sources in the plan’s implementation. 

According to Governor Cuomo

We do not have time to waste in the fight against climate change and New York continues to lead by advancing the most aggressive policies in the nation to slow the warming of the planet. With this expansion of our Clean Energy Standard, we are further accelerating the State’s historic efforts to grow our onshore and offshore renewable capacity, and create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs for New Yorkers that will power our economic recovery, while also ensuring a large share of the benefits go to communities and workers that have been historically disadvantaged.”

The New York Public Service Commission has commended the legislation put forward by Governor Cuomo for the creation of a clean and affordable energy system in the region.

New York Living?

New York City as a place to live has lost a substantial amount of its appeal.  Gone are the days when people would do anything to rent out a converted garage space in Manhattan to be right in the center of it all.  Rather than overcrowding and poor quality rentals, people are looking in other areas to lay their hat.

In fact, the prices of Manhattan rentals has never been lower. People are not interested anymore in staying close by to work, well, because either they have  no work or their work is not centralized anymore.  As more and more of the workforce are being told they can work from home and schools are in limbo, now is becoming an increasingly popular time to move out of the city and into the burbs.

Engle & Volkers Real Estate agent Nicole Beauchamp asserted that

“It makes sense to come to sort of a medium point that works for both parties versus having a tenant move out and then having the vacancy and trying to fill the vacancy at a time when there’s a lot of choice for tenants. Compare what you’re in now to what you could move to and have that frank discussion with the landlord, that you’re here and you would like to stay and you would like an adjustment, or that you’re willing to go,”

CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis was also informed that now, tenants are finding themselves in the rather unique position of being able to negotiate on prices with their landlords.  Not surprising since over 67,000 rental units were available in NYC as of July!