The Hidden Side of the Empire State Building
26 June 2015 by James Bird
London may have one of the most lucrative and attractive commercial property markets in the world, but all cities have their own thriving markets. As a change of pace, this time I am going further afield and “jumping across the pond” to look at one of the most iconic landmarks in the world….
When you hear New York, most people will automatically think of the Big Apple as being a holiday destination with tourists flocking to see the numerous sights from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park. For many, this will also include the Empire State Building and the remarkable views it provides. Having recently returned from my own holiday in New York I can certainly say that it lives up to all the expectations but being a tourist, I only got to witness a limited part of the building. Whilst it is a major tourist attraction there is a completely different side to it which many do not experience.
The Empire State Building was constructed in May 1931 and took less than 15 months to complete from the start of construction. Standing at 102 stories tall with an additional 200 foot tall antenna, the building is currently the third tallest in the whole of the city, although it’s still the second tallest if you count the antenna. As well as the attraction of the incredible views, the building also has different lighting combinations to signify different events and even put on light shows for seasonal holidays. However being a tourist, you are only able to see the 86th and 102nd floor with the ticket purchased. There are about 100 other floors which many forget that is prime commercial space within the city.
One of the most recent additions to the Empire State Building is that of Shutterstock, the provider of digital imagery licensing. They have recently moved into their new headquarters which span over two whole floors. In a blog posted by the company to give an insight into their new offices, they explained that these contained a variety of conference rooms, two games rooms, a secret library and a yoga studio just to name but a few of the features, all with a wide variety of modern designs and styles. Whilst the building may have been built over 80 years ago with the exterior being so well preserved, the interior is undoubtedly being brought into modern times.
On the other end of the scale though there has been recent news that one of the oldest businesses at the building has been unable to renew their tenancy and will shortly be closing for good. Louis Shoe Rebuilders has been running from the Empire State Building since it first opened after construction, but predates even the building itself having been trading for many years before construction had started at the site. Running for 94 years now, the current owner of business, Beatrice Barbieri, explained that there was no offer for renewal of the lease. Beatrice, who has owned the business since 1992, explained that the rent has increased from $5000 to nearly $10,000 per month. Last year though the Landlord had lowered the rent on the ground floor premises to $7000 per month as a temporary measure and now they are unwilling to keep Louis Shoes Rebuilders at the property. It is expected that once a new tenant has been found, the rent being paid will have almost quadrupled to $25,000. As a mark of respect and to signify the changing face of the Empire State Building and New York as a whole, the group #SaveNYC and customers of the business held a mock funeral in its honour.
With $550 million of refurbishment and building upgrades currently underway at the Empire State Building, it is clear that there is a great deal more to the property than simply the iconic tourist attraction. It is a thriving community in itself full of commercial activity, a side to the building which is hidden to many.
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