NEW YORK – The sounds of spring are back in Bryant Park, with lawn mowers cutting the grass and even office workers chatting over a lunch in the sun.
However, the largest green space in Midtown, Manhattan, normally fills up with office workers at this time of year:
“Right now it’s empty,” said Phil Perry, who has worked in the area for decades. Perry, who works in the banking industry, explained that “In years gone by, on a bright sunny day like this, you wouldn’t see a square inch of open lawn. That would be a blanket to cover with people playing hacky sack, frisbee, the whole nine yards. Right now I would say you are at 20% of what is the norm. “
What would you like to know
- Kastle Systems: The week of April 15, 2020, the New York metropolitan area achieved a 4.3% office occupancy rate from pre-pandemic levels
- Kastle Systems reduced office occupancy in metro New York City to 17% of pre-pandemic levels on Wednesday
Perry says his office is at 50% capacity, with people rotating weekly, working from the office and from home.
“It’s more productive to be back in the office,” he says.
That and vaccines, experts say, are driving up office returns and occupancy rates.
Kastle Systems, which manages the security of 275 buildings in New York City, says its data shows office occupancy rates began to decline in March 2020. During the week of April 15, 2020, it hit the highest. 4.3% down from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. It rose to 10% in July and 16% in October.
The winter break brought it back below 10%, but it has since climbed. As of Wednesday, it was back to 17% of pre-pandemic levels.
Yet New York and San Francisco are the two major cities in the country with the lowest occupancy rates. Nationally, the average office occupancy rate is 27% of pre-pandemic levels.
“New York, when you look at the major markets across the United States, has been among the slowest to return to the office, which I think we can explain by the force with which the pandemic hit New York early” , said Mark Ein, president of Kastle Systems.
San Fransisco is the lowest, he says, because the big tech sector was already ready to move away and can more easily adopt it than other industries.
Ein believes the numbers will rise as many working-age people are fully vaccinated after Memorial Day and rise steadily over the summer with a giant leap again on Labor Day.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brian Soto, director of acquisitions and asset management at Time Equities Inc ..
Soto agreed that office workers would wholesale back in September to the approximately 1 million square foot New York City retail space that Time Equities Inc. owns and manages, but says he also expects a bump after the July 4th vacation.
“We are seeing more deals come to fruition. We’re seeing more touring happening, ”Soto said. “My sales and leasing manager, she said she hasn’t seen so much activity since spring 2019 so we’re very encouraged. “
Workers like Perry know it’s only a matter of time before things start to fill up in Bryant Park and their offices.
“In two weeks we’re going to be 60%, so 6 days out of 10, and Labor Day will be at 80%,” Perry said.
Most people NY1 spoke to agreed that there will now always be a component of working from home that did not exist before the pandemic.
But one psychologist we spoke to while having lunch in the park was focused on the positive:
“Just seeing people having fun again… we’re in Bryant Park. It is as if the grass is greener. I don’t know, it’s like the trees are smiling at you, ”Dr Jairo Gonzalez said. We are back and we will thrive. “
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