As New York City’s vacancy rate has skyrocketed by nearly 50 percent, a report released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer showed that the amount of empty retail space in the city has doubled in the last 10 years or so. The vacancy rate reached a high of 5.8 percent in 2017, up from 4 percent in 2007, according to Retail Dive.
Stringer noted that eCommerce – or what he dubs “the Amazon effect” – has been a significant contributor to the situation. He added pointed to increasing rents, “regulatory hurdles” and property tax hikes.
Average retail rents jumped 22 percent citywide over the past decade, particularly in sections of Manhattan. Increases have been as high as 55 percent in Central Harlem and 68 percent of the Upper West Side.
Overall, the 24-neighborhood analysis indicates that vacancy has grown across the city’s five boroughs. Some areas of Manhattan have shown some of the worst vacancies, and Queens and Staten Island were also hit hard. Select neighborhoods were experiencing rates of vacancy up to 25 percent.
Earlier this year, news surfaced that rents were falling and vacancies were rising on New York’s storied Fifth Avenue. According to reports in May, average ground-floor asking store rents clocked in at $2,779 per square foot in the first quarter in the blocks spanning 49th to 60th Streets, marking a decrease of 11 percent from their Q1 2017 peak.
The availability rate on those blocks, which is a measure that includes expiring leases that haven’t been filled as well as vacancies, came in at 25 percent in Q1. That is higher than the 17.4 percent seen in the first quarter of last year, but lower than the 27.5 percent seen in the fourth quarter.
The portion of the corridor spanning from Saks Fifth Avenue to the southeast corner of Central Park is considered to be a significant tourist attraction in the city. It includes high-end brands like Tiffany & Co., Rolex and Gucci.