NEW YORK - New York City may be going through a rebalancing of sorts. An estimated 1 million people who once commuted into the city will work from home. In the meantime, a caravan of moving trucks is shuttling New Yorkers away. At some point, things will return to normal. But what will the city look like?
Whether you live in New York full time or commute in for work, you can't deny that the city is different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Ton of moving trucks," one woman tells FOX 5 News. "I live right down the block and every day there's another moving truck."
"I think the future of New York City is very bright," Wright say. "With certain things it accelerated, trends that were already underway.
He cites telemedicine, remote learning, and working from home as things that have been dramatically accelerated.
"What's really happened is that things that were going to happen over 10 years suddenly happened in 10 weeks," Wright says.
New York City typically turns over every decade but this is different.
Based on cell phone data, as many as 15% of Manhattan residents may have left, according to Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Apartment prices look to be taking a hit, retail storefronts are boarded, and some restaurants are dark. That all contributes to what Gelinas calls an "immediate disequilibrium of the tax base."
"We would have had 70 million tourists this year, which is a record amount," Gelinas said. "Tourism is $6 billion worth of our tax revenue. To the extent that tourists stay away, officer workers stay away, and residents stay away, it does have a devastating impact."
And then there is the impact on mass transit. Fewer commuters mean less revenue. Half of the subway system's budget comes from fares. But the MTA still has to run the trains, so it doesn't save money when ridership is down, Gelinas said. The other half of the MTA's budget comes from taxes. The only possible solution: help from Washington to ensure that New York comes back—and—strong.
"At the end of the day, we're going to need the federal government to step in on a short-term basis to kind of get the transit authority and public authorities, and state and local governments through this," Wright says.
Gelinas said she believes the subway will be the city's first big test. If we can move millions of people safely without a significant spike in COVID cases, that could be a good sign for the opening of Broadway, the opera, museums, and even concerts.