Related Cos. CEO Calls For Workers To Come Back To New York City

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Some major New York City retail properties — including the shopping center at Hudson Yards — are only producing 50 percent of pre-pandemic rent, the CEO of major Big Apple landlord Related Cos. said Thursday (Aug. 27), according to CNBC.

“Retail is obvious struggling,” Jeff Blau said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We expect that will pick up post [re]opening.”

Blau also repeated pleas he made in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece in which he called for New Yorkers to return to the city and their jobs.

“I think it’s really important that we bring our office workers back to work in New York City,” he said in a portion of the conversation that can be streamed online.

Related Cos. brought the 89 percent of its workers who were not impeded by health concerns back to work as soon as the city allowed office buildings to reopen on June 22 and “it’s been very, very positive,” Blau said.

“[Related’s offices] have never been very dense to begin with,” he said on the program, and the company took steps to ensure reopening would be safe.

“Every company’s going to do it slightly differently,” he added.

Related has heard from corporate tenants interested in temporarily expanding to “de-densify,” Blau told CNBC.

Going forward, he said, “I do think we will see a trend of less-dense space post-COVID, or even starting now.”

“I don’t think remote, and I don’t think Zoom, replaces going to the office,” he added.

Echoing his WSJ piece, Blau said: “When you drive around the city, there are parts of the city that are empty. … People have left the city. … They need to come back to New York [for] two reasons … one is to go to school, and to go the other is to work.”

Returning to work will entail patronizing coffee shops and delis, he continued.

“You support all these small businesses,” he said. “It’s really not about the commercial real estate. This is about bringing New York back to life. This is supporting New York and helping New York recover.”

Some New Yorkers will return after a year away and expect to return to an unchanged city, he said, but “The city doesn’t recover by itself. The city will recover, but we’re going to have to work at it. And part of working at it is coming back to New York City.”

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