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.