Having a New Yorker who is part of the city’s real estate industry become President of the United States could be a boon for the city — in spite of walkability and traffic snafus next to his office and home at Trump Tower.
The center of the tourist universe has already shifted to the blocks surrounding the tower at Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street which are now packed with gawkers, protestors, supporters, media and, yes, even shoppers.
As police and visitors settle into routines, security adjustments have been made — including opening West 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth. That’s why broker and CBRE vice chairman Richard Hodos isn’t worried about customers getting to stores.
Further, he says he’s confident the Secret Service will figure out ways to protect Trump and his family without impeding access. “Fifth is one of the greatest streets in the world,” Hodos says. “The stores will have to simply navigate around what is thrown at them.”
There are some challenges. For one, it doesn’t look like East 56th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues will ever reopen — whether Trump is home or not — putting a damper on restaurants and shops on that block.
Police carefully vet pedestrians, concrete barriers abound and bomb-sniffing dogs ply the street.
While business still seems to be booming in the tower’s atrium as coffee shops and office workers were seated within its public space, nearby shops are feeling the pocket pinch.
Because the road closures are enacted by the government, lawyers say companies can’t sue Trump or the city — or tap into any business interruption insurance.
At a City Council hearing on Jan. 10, business owners testified about lost revenue; brokers say many are exploring moves from the area.
Tom Cusick, president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, now estimates area losses from Election Day through the holiday season have exceeded $40 million.
Additionally, it is costing the NYPD $500,000 per day to patrol the area, while officers are also shifted from other neighborhoods. Trump has already told Mayor Bill de Blasio that he will try to get the city reimbursed for some of the added security.
City Council member Dan Garodnick tried to take the issues surrounding the armed fortress directly to the President-Elect, saying, “We ask that you not treat Trump Tower as a pied-a-terre . . . the White House is lovely.”
That is not expected to happen, though, as First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron are expected to stay in New York for the remainder of the school year. The new POTUS may also fly from DC to Palm Beach for the weekends until spring, when he may shift back to his triplex at the top of Trump Tower or to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Ironically, after their White House days, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton considered a Trump Tower pad. If Hillary decides to run for mayor, perhaps putting them all in one tower bucket would save taxpayers money.
Real estate industry insiders, however, believe Trump’s background will offer a boost to the economy.
“From my personal experience, Donald ran the Trump Organization efficiently, and based on Wall Street’s initial reaction and my observations in the real estate market, having a president with business acumen is being well received,” says Kim Mogull, CEO of Mogull Realty.
Trump encouraged Mogull to start her own company; she has represented his national retail portfolio. “He was always cutting expenses and inspires maximum production because he leads by example with his work ethic; and he is a great cheerleader when you do a great job,” she adds.
Peter Riguardi, chairman and president of the tri-state region for JLL, says he has been encouraged that Trump will reduce taxes and bring jobs back to the United States. “I’m intrigued by what I’ve been hearing,” confides Riguardi. “One of the things he’s been saying and we’ve been laughing about is that the people we’ve been voting into these jobs make bad deals. With a little bit of chutzpah and some better deals to stimulate the economy, it can be good for New York.”
For Ken McCarthy, principal economist for Cushman & Wakefield, the big question is how Trump will impact the economy when there was no consistency during the campaign.
McCarthy explains that Trump is a dealmaker and anyone who does deals, doesn’t start off where he wants to end up. “Trump the candidate vs. Trump the president will end up in a different place and a more pragmatic place; so when we look at the policies he proposed, the consensus is that they would generate the economy,” McCarthy says.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Chairman of Global Brokerage, Bruce Mosler, is also of a mind that Trump’s policies are likely to spur job growth. “Of course we have to wait and see,” he cautions. “Some of the economic policies he is talking about might have a positive effect on job growth, including the simplification of Dodd Frank [which affects the financial institutions]. But none of these policies will have an immediate impact.”
For the banks, it could result in stronger financial institutions that will expand, agrees Leslie Himmel, a partner in Himmel + Meringoff Properties. “If they start to grow, they can take more space,” Himmel says.
“What he’s done by winning has already set a tone of optimism in the real estate world,” says Adelaide Polsinelli, a principal of Eastern Consolidated.