LandlordsNY Briefing for February 12th

Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared before a joint session of the state Senate and Assembly in Albany yesterday to propose a commercial vacancy tax. The tax would affect vacant retail properties that have remained empty for an unspecified period of time. As has been frequently noted, many major thoroughfares, particularly in Manhattan, are currently seeing significant ground floor vacancy rates due to a combination of high rents, high wages, changing tastes, and increased competition from online retailers like Amazon. (Note that the total retail vacancy rate is around 4 percent, while the retail availability and ground floor retail vacancy rates are much higher.)

As the city does not have the power to pass such legislation, the mayor had to take his case to the state. Obviously, real estate interests are opposed to the idea.

Crain’s New York has more.

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While speaking during the same joint session in Albany, Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested that he does not support the congestion pricing proposal drafted by Governor Andrew Cuomo. However, the mayor said he would be willing to change his tune if the governor included hardship exemptions and if some of the proceeds of the plan went toward financing capital construction projects and not just fixing the subway.

The Wall Street Journal has more.

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In a Landlords New York Minute – A (Very) Brief Look Around the World

North Korea is continuing to amass materials to make nuclear weapons, a small Swiss company hopes to stop climate change, Canadian investigators are looking into whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acted unethically when he pressured his former attorney general to not prosecute an engineering firm, and the National Enquirer may have served as a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia. Negotiators in the House and the Senate have come to a tentative agreement to avert a partial government shutdown that includes $1.375 billion for fencing and other physical barriers along the Mexican border, the deal may not appease the president, stock markets are facing some downward pressure because of the persistently strong dollar, Wall Street firms are cutting their earnings forecasts, the once-thriving solar industry in the United States is stagnating following tariffs put in place by the Trump administration, Interior Department head David Bernhardt hopes to eliminate the protections for an endangered species of fish to please a group he once represented as a lobbyist, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has apologized for remarks that some perceived as anti-Semitic, City Councilmember Rubén Díaz Sr. (D-Dist. 18) is being asked to resign after saying that the Council is controlled by “the homosexual community,” a majority of New Yorkers support Amazon’s HQ2 project in Long Island City, spending on economic-development incentives in the city have increased to almost $10 billion (a 17 percent jump in just two years), landlords appear to be losing political clout in numerous states (including New York), white residents of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood are evidently being harassed by agents from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (the agency tasked with cracking down on illegal short-term rentals), at least one lawmaker in Albany wants to split New York in two, almost 9 million New Yorkers do not have real broadband internet access, L train riders are complaining of a “dusty haze” and a strong smell of rubbing alcohol in parts of North Brooklyn, and the subway system is getting almost discernibly better.

The practice of building megaliths may have begun in northwestern France around 5000 BCE and spread to other parts of Europe from there, the practice of gifting crystal meth during the Lunar New Year has become popular in North Korea, a New Jersey man bit a state trooper in Vermont after enjoying several après ski libations, a robot learned to ice skate, Hawaii received a rare dusting of snow, Atomo Coffee is reverse engineering coffee that contains no coffee, and milk is more common in the animal kingdom than previously assumed.

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