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The Real Estate Philosopher

Dear Mayor Adams

Feb 7, 2023

Dear Mayor Adams:

I am one of the last lonely bulls on NYC office. (Almost) everyone else thinks I don’t have a clue or that I have just lost my marbles.

In addition, I am proud that New York always finds a way to not only survive but to thrive and reinvent itself for greater success, now for close to 500 years.

Finally, I love New York – just like you do.

All of this, I believe, entitles me to suggest to you that allowing government employees to work from home would be a mistake.

I know certain groups that have significant voting power are pressuring you, but I ask you to stand firm against this decision.

There are a few reasons that I will highlight to you:

First – and most obviously, offices are the most challenged asset class in NYC. Anything that promulgates the emptiness of offices will just make this worse.

Second – office building values dropping – or even having their owners go into bankruptcy – will be severely detrimental to the City’s tax base.

Third – possibly worse – there are a ton of businesses that depend on office occupancy for survival, e.g. restaurants and numerous other businesses located nearby or in the buildings themselves. There is an ecosystem, all of which depends on people coming to the office. If these businesses go under or lose profitability it leads to (i) even more erosion of the City’s tax base, (ii) vacant storefronts, and (iii) higher unemployment.

Fourth – along the same lines, public transit systems are just coming out of their funk, and this will push them in the wrong direction.

Fifth – one of the toughest things about government workers is their interaction with the people they are supposed to service, i.e. the public. This is tricky enough without exacerbating it by allowing government workers not to be physically present.

Sixth – one of the high points you have raised during your tenure as Mayor is how critical it is to get crime under control. A bunch of closed businesses and deserted streets are going to be a witch’s cauldron for increases in crime.

Seventh – you have been seeking to lead by example by exhorting business leaders and employees to come back to the office. Allowing governmental employees a different standard undermines your leadership on this critical point.

Eighth – and finally – the government has a certain inexorability about it; namely, things that the government starts in action can never stop. This decision – if allowed – will be forever. I mean, imagine the hue and cry ten years from now if someone suggests that people that have become used to working from home have to come to the office.

I am sure it is incredibly difficult to be Mayor of the most wonderful – yet intricate – city on the planet, and you have pressures from all sides to make the right judgments.

I have no monopoly on what is the right judgment call; however, I do hope you will take the foregoing into account as you come to a decision.

Best regards,

Bruce Stachenfeld aka The Real Estate Philosopher™

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As the Chairman of Adler & Stachenfeld – a law firm in mid-town NYC known as The Pure Play in Real Estate Law – I am inviting you to join The Real Estate Philosopher™. This will consist of my thoughts and also thoughts of friends and colleagues.

It will not be published in any traditional media – it will go only to friends of our firm. The purpose here is very simple – to put forth thoughts in the real estate world that are different, provocative, and challenging of accepted wisdom. Hopefully, nothing said here will be mainstream thinking.

You may be wondering how I am qualified to write on these topics since I am “just” a lawyer. However, I have an unusual place in the real estate world. As the Chairman of The Pure Play in Real Estate Law (one of the largest real estate law practices in NYC), I interact with an incredible number of real estate players. This ranges from small real estate shops with nothing but a gleam in their eyes, to some of the largest real estate institutions in the world, and everything in between. This gives me a unique and global perspective and allows me to act as an amateur philosopher in the real estate world. This has always been my hobby and it is what I love doing.


Bruce Stachenfeld
a.k.a The Real Estate Philosopher™

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