Overvalued

Back in the fall of 1982, I and Wife #1 came to the U.S. for the first time in my life — in fact, the first time I’d ever left the African sub-continent at all — and because I didn’t know diddly about New York City (our first stop), I booked us a room at the Hotel Edison just off 47st and Broadway because it was cheap.  I didn’t know, at the time, that the area was known as Hell’s Kitchen for a very good reason, but in those days I was tough and didn’t really give a damn — I was coming from fucking Johannesburg, how bad could New York be?  (Not bad at all by comparison, actually.)

Anyway, from memory, the room cost about $47+tax a night, and while it was awful, I’d stayed in much worse (errr South Africa, remember) and while we we assailed by Volkswagen-sized cockroaches a couple times, the hotel was close to most of what we wanted to see around Times Square, and was easy walking distance to Greenwich Village to the south and Central Park to the north.  Also, the delis on 8th Ave were fantastic — my first experience with a gut-busting NY-style pastrami sandwich was an eye-opener — and so we spent our days walking around the place, seeing the sights, eating deli food and holding our noses to block out the smells (garbage strike).

Anyway, years later (after the Great Wetback Episode of 1985) I had occasion to go from Chicago back to New York, this time on business, and as the Manhattan branch office was quite nearby, I booked into the Edison again, for nostalgia’s sake.

It was the same crappy hotel, same foul rooms, only this time the room cost $285+tax.  When I first saw the rate when I was booking the trip, I thought the hotel had to have undergone a huge refurbishment to justify that kind of price increase;  but of course it hadn’t:  it was just New York Fucking City.

Still later, I checked out the hotel again, just out of curiosity, and the rate was $385.  And from what I could gather, still no refurb of the place.

I should remind everyone that I have never shrunk from paying top dollar for a quality product, whether it was The Mayfair Hotel in London, the Madison in Paris, Imperial in Tokyo or wherever.  Five-star is five-star, and there ya go.  Paying five-star prices for total shit, however… nu-uh.  And from my experience, most Manhattan hotels were shit.  Even the “highbrow” ones like the Waldorf-Astoria or the Algonquin were overpriced flophouses, and their astronomical prices were justified either by the “cachet” attached to being in New York, NY [eyecross]  or else the high (overpriced) cost of the real estate.

So you can imagine my response when I saw this article via Insty:

During the second quarter ended June 30, average asking rents along 16 major retail corridors in Manhattan declined for the eleventh consecutive quarter, falling to $688 per square foot, according to a report from the commercial real estate services firm CBRE. The drop marked the first time since 2011 that prices dropped below $700, the firm said, representing an 11.3% decline from a year ago.

A number of retailers have outright stopped paying rent to their landlords during the pandemic, which in some instances is resulting in litigation.

Boo fucking hoo.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of supercilious chiselers and snooty price gougers.  And then there’s this, at the end of the article:

“I think there is a short-term and a long-term look at this,” NKF’s Roseman said. “Short-term, we are in survival mode right now. But when things do sort of turn back around, it will still be the same. There is only one Fifth Avenue in the world.”

If you look up “Wishful Thinking” in your dictionary, this sentiment will be under the heading.  (It probably links to “Dinosaur Perspectives” too, speaking as it does about L.A.’s Rodeo Drive and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue as being Places To See And Be Seen.  Dream on, Bubba:  we’re facing a new world.)

Anyway, I see that the Edison is “temporarily” closed because of the Chinkvirus — and from the looks of it, has had a refurb since I last checked — but one of the “business-class” hotels on Broadway, where I paid over $500 a night in 2007, is now asking $121.

No wonder they’re not paying the rent.

11 comments

  1. I had been contemplating a trip to NY to see the place and take a cruise. Then I started looking closer and it looked more and more like an over priced dump. There seems to an awful lot of ugly stuff to put up with to see a few shows, sights and museums.

    Has anyone been there recently enough to comment?

    1. It’s been about five years, but yeah. I first hit Manhattan (for work) about 10 years ago, when it still had Giuliani fingerprints, and it was nicer than I expected. (My wife was a regular in NYC in the 70s and 80s, so that was what I was expecting.) It was relatively clean — it still smelled or rats and sour milk, but not overly so — and felt very safe (again, in Manhattan.)

      Five years ago, with a full Bloomberg/early Wilhelm-De Blasio? Shithole. Bums everywhere, smell was terrible, subway was in poor repair, the doormen had become security again, it was all terrible. Even the food wasn’t as good. I shudder to think how bad it is now with it being fully Wilhelm-De Blasio.

  2. They still have rent control laws in NYC. A friend has lived in Greenwich Village for I think, $125.00 a month for the last fifty years. Good for her, but bad for the landlord. Hotel rooms saw no limit to what could be charged because they were often fully booked. Not anymore, I will bet.

    I last went to NYFC a few years ago to watch a basketball game. I have no real urge to return, thank you.

  3. It has been over 16 years since I was last in NYC, I used to go up once or twice a year from the mid 1990’s for trade shows and meetings. We were given great rates at the ‘Millennium Times Square’ 44th and Broadway by booking through our trade association and at that time NYC was in a clean and neat mode. I was doing business with Cartier, Dunhill and Montblanc being wined and dined by those guys and that was a great way to see 5th Avenue. We dined on the terrace of the Cartier building where all of the men were given Davidoff cigars, a nice little box of them and the women were given perfume. The last week people were allowed to smoke indoors in NYC we were part of a small dinner group upstairs at Dunhill and at the end of the dinner we were allowed to go down into the store and pick up four or five cigars, out choice. The Dunhill dining area upstairs was next to the cigar humidor room where we went in to the lockers with the names of the rich and famous where their cigars were stored. That lifestyle stuff was impressive for a Texas guy.

    I am so glad I don’t have to travel up there any more since they let everything turn to crap but, in the old days the food was a bit expensive and it was wonderful from the deli’s to the fine restaurants, New Yorkers always had a choice close by if the food was not good which, to me was a prime example of competitive free enterprise, survival of the the fittest.

    1. Old Texan, I suspect you are right about New York having the finest restaurants and getting to dine there as a VIP. (Lucky you!) The New Yorkers I met back then relished telling one another about their latest find for great dining.
      I had my first Thai food there, and my friend knew of these little bakeries where you could get the best knishes (sp.?) and bagels. That was in 1981.
      Much quieter here in NH.

  4. I visited in the mid 80’s. It was an overhyped garbage dump, in love with the smell of its own asshole.

    Had zero desire to ever return voluntarily.

  5. Speaking of Noo Yawk Fockin’ City, this is pure gold:

    Governor Cuomo begs wealthy New Yorkers to come home to save ailing city

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/governor-cuomo-begs-wealthy-yorkers-150935434.html

    The governor of New York has begged the city’s wealthy, who fled the coronavirus outbreak, to return and help it recover.

    Andrew Cuomo said he was extremely worried about New York City weathering the Covid-19 aftermath if too many of the well-heeled taxpayers who fled to second homes decide there is no need to move back.

    “They are in their Hamptons homes, or Hudson Valley or Connecticut. I talk to them literally every day. I say. ‘When are you coming back? I’ll buy you a drink. I’ll cook,’ “ Mr Cuomo told MSNBC, naming popular getaways for the rich.

    “They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking, if I stay there, they pay a lower income tax because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge. So, that would be a bad place if we had to go there.”

    Lawmakers have proposed a wealth tax targeting the city’s 100 billionaires to help fill a $30 billion (£23bn) budget shortfall created by the Covid-19 crisis.

    Talk about a Schadenboner-inducing article….

  6. Oh well, I guess I left it too long to get to NYC.

    It does occur to me that one of the reasons I so enjoyed my first and so far only cruise was the absence of the underclasses. I’m not being racist, I’m talking about trash people of all colours and races,

    There was no loud trash talk, no litter, no hint or fear of violence, no pushing, no shoving, just a whole bunch of people from all over the world behaving reasonably and having fun.

  7. Never wished to go to NYC, never have, and never will – and I just would prefer that those fleeing that hell-hole don’t end up anywhere near me.

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