NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s a sobering view of the economy in New York City.
A record number of hotels continue to close. In fact, it’s one of the hardest hit industries.
Ninety percent of hotel workers in the city were laid off, and 25,000 of them have been without work for six months. A total of 200 hotels have completely shuttered.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, this is United Nations General Assembly week, a time most hotels rely on for their bread and butter. But instead, the Fitzpatrick Manhattan is closed, for now.
The owner told Rozner he’s focused on keeping another hotel open that is only at around 15% capacity – others are as low as 8%.
You can get a room at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central for as low as $122 a night, but low prices aren’t luring guests. Owner John Fitzpatrick could only keep 20 of his 160 employees. He says with no business meetings and the required 14 day quarantine, it’s the worst he’s seen it in 30 years.
“I came from Ireland to open this hotel and we want to do the right thing, but how do we survive? They just leave us to fend for ourselves,” he said.
The iconic 44 story Hilton Times Square is now history. Omni Berkshire Place on Madison and 52nd is permanently closed. The Grand Hyatt adjacent to Grand Central Terminal has been shut down since May, and the sidewalk is a popular spot for homeless people. The jewelry store next door is now seeing one customer a day.
“It might not be enough to keep us in business,” said Chen Levy, owner of Christi Sothers Jewelry. “There’s no law and order. It’s a mess.”
HotelPlanner.com numbers show people are coming to New York for one night stays, at best.
“That’s definitely a higher loss rate in New York than other destinations,” said Bruce Rosenberg, president of HotelPlanner.com.
Thursday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to expand coronavirus testing and speed up results, calling it the start of a rebirth for New York City, but he eventually stopped taking questions from reporters, and would only say there’s four phases he’ll detail in the coming weeks.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association says two thirds of hotels will only be able to last for another six months.
“What are you doing to help that industry?” Rozner asked the mayor.
“Get ourselves on that strong, healthy footing,” he said. “We can’t do what we would love to do, which would be direct support, financially.”
But hotel industry leaders say there are solutions.
“There has been no work on the part of the city to give any forgiveness or forbearance with respect to property taxes,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
That leaves those impacted by the lack of tourism frustrated, with a message for the mayor.
“Don’t wait until the elections. Leave now,” said Christi Sothers Jewelry employee Shashi Sharma.
The hotel association says low interest loans from Congress and extending the paycheck protection program are other lifelines that are sorely needed.
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