Area businesses estimate $40M in lost revenue because of Trump Tower ‘occupied zone’
President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to remain in his Manhattan HQ is causing concern among businesses in the area. Business leaders and local officials spoke out Tuesday at a City Council hearing on the threat that blocked sidewalks and traffic snarls are posing to jobs, tax revenues, tourist appeal and “global reputation,” reports Crain’s. Local merchants claim they’ve taken a significant hit, and that many are considering not renewing their leases or moving elsewhere. Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District president Tom Cusack estimated that local businesses have lost $40 million in revenue since Election Day due to the security maze that the area surrounding Trump Tower has become.
Kathryn Wylde of The Partnership for New York City warned that “extraordinary action” was needed to protect the city from unprecedented problems in the popular tourist destination that now “has the look and feel of an occupied zone.” The Fifth Avenue zone around West 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is home to high-end destination shops like Gucci and Tiffany & Co. and over 100 small businesses, all of which provide around 1,000 jobs according to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. A suggestion made by former transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to turn the area into a pedestrian zone was also met with alarm, as big-spending customers often arrive by car.
Security costs ahead of Trump’s swearing-in have also been estimated at a higher-than-expected $37.4 million according to the Daily News, with a $500,000-a-day tab estimated for every day he’s back in town after he becomes president. The NYPD estimates that if Trump spends half his time in NYC after the inauguration the department’s costs would go up by $91 million a year.
As 6sqft previously reported, Congress has offered only $7 million so far for costs that include traffic enforcement by the NYPD’s civilian traffic enforcement agents as well as salaries, overtime and benefits of officers on guard at the glitzy midtown skyscraper. Officers are being moved from neighborhoods throughout the city to beef up the security detail, with overtime pay being used to replace them; Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget Vincent Grippo said at the City Council hearing that although neighborhoods aren’t being negatively affected, overtime pay would exceed the department’s allocated $500 million overtime budget: “We end up with a financial hit. This is an unprecedented event of a tremendous scale and size. New York City taxpayers should not ultimately be on the hook for that.”
Councilman Dan Garodnick, chairman of the economic development committee and representative for the midtown neighborhood directed a plea to the prez-elect to take up residence somewhere away from what has been called midtown’s busiest corner: “We ask that you not treat Trump Tower as a pied-a-terre.” Garodnick said Trump’s transition team was invited to testify at the hearing but did not respond to the request.