Sunday Summary: Guys… Coronavirus Isn’t Over Yet


Last week, we got the news that we had been waiting for since March: Pfizer looks like they’ve developed a coronavirus vaccine! (It’s still in the third phase of trials.) The vaccine could last a year. And it’s 90 percent effective. Hallelujah!

The announcement comes, however, after we’ve been blasted on a daily basis by worse and worse COVID-19 news. New records of infection are constantly shattered. This week, we hit 160,000 infections nationally in a single 24 hours.

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And Gov. Cuomo is taking the possibility of a second lockdown pretty seriously. On Nov. 11, he announced what is effectively a 10 p.m. curfew for gyms, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

While the country seems distracted with the serialized D.C. drama over whether President Trump will cede power to President-elect Biden, the damage of the pandemic only seems to worsen.

Among the more overlooked, yet, maddening statistics about coronavirus is that, since January, some 2.2 million women have left the workforce, about 700,000 more than the number of men.

When school started in September, women began dropping out of the workforce at a rate of four times as many as men: 865,000 women, compared to only 216,000 men.

How this plays out in commercial real estate was a topic we looked at in-depth this week.

“Before the pandemic, I would get maybe 10 women looking to get into the business, looking for advice, direction or an opportunity. Now, I have zero women,” Adelaide Polsinelli, a commercial broker at Compass, told Commercial Observer. “I still get young guys looking. I had five new hires looking for employment. All men, no women.”

And one sees the havoc in other forms of real estate.

Rents in Midtown have fallen as low as $30 per foot for sublease space.

Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the country, announced a 73 percent drop in annual earnings.

For retailers who hold out hope that the holidays will save them as in so many years past … many don’t share the same optimism. There could be as much as a 20 percent dip in holiday spending, according to a new report by JLL (JLL). Which led Commercial Observer to ask a very Ebenezer Scrooge-like question:

Will 2020 be the last Black Friday ever?

Heck, even Disneyland is furloughing workers with no end in sight on when they will reopen.

Give us something to work with here!

Yes, some who have seen the disparity between men and women in the world of real estate have decided to take matters into their own hands. CO reported this week about Joann Lui’s Womens Architect Collective (WAC) to address the needs of female architects.

“My whole point in starting the collective is not only to give people representation, but to help younger women coming into this field see women architects doing amazing things,” Lui said. “I was personally frustrated with a lot of women saying they weren’t being seen, or heard, and thinking that it wasn’t fair and isn’t going to change.”

And, in lender world, things are not quite as bleak as in the rest of real estate.

In this week’s Lenders Issue, we spoke to some of the top banks and lenders in the country, and many were cautiously optimistic about New York City real estate.

“NYC remains the financial capital of the world, and it’s a place where people and businesses will want to be over the long term,” said Acore Capital’s Warren de Haan. He was hardly alone in the assessment.

Investments in property technology are still happening: Tishman Speyer launched a $300 million company to invest in proptech firms, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

And, although New Yorkers like to believe that they’re the center of the universe, not everything is as bleak outside of Gotham. Dallas, Boise, New Jersey, Denver and Miami are where many smart investors are putting their money. (Yeah, that Boise, Idaho.)

Keep that vaccine coming!