The Daily Dirt: The trouble with TikTok

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Jul.July 31, 2020 07:00 PM

TikTok is NYC’s biggest new office tenant. But there is a lot of uncertainty swirling around the company’s future in the U.S.

President Trump reportedly plans to order China’s ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok operations. It is not clear what authority the president has to do that, but he’s apparently done it before: According to the Washington Post, Trump ordered a Chinese company in March to divest all ownership of a U.S. hotel-software company, StayNTouch. In response to the order, the company’s parent, Shiji Information Technology, said it was “not a threat to U.S. security in any way.”

TikTok may already have a suitor: Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy the video app. Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino Tweeted on Friday that the White House is “deeply concerned” by Microsoft’s interest.

The news follows earlier threats by the president to potentially ban TikTok from the U.S., citing concerns that its Beijing-based parent will share user data with the Chinese government. A full-blown ban would potentially imperil one of the few bright spots in the city’s office market since the pandemic took hold. In May, TikTok inked a 232,000-square-foot lease at the Durst Organization’s One Five One, formerly known as Four Times Square. A representative for Durst on Friday declined to comment on the president’s order.

At a time when so much is already uncertain about the city’s office market and economy at large, the president’s order probably won’t encourage foreign-owned companies to lease space or otherwise pursue business in the U.S. I’m sure companies will be closely watching what happens with TikTok.

What we’re thinking about: What kind of authority does the president have to order ByteDance to sell TikTok? What will that mean for other foreign-owned businesses in the U.S.? Will Microsoft buy TikTok? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Friday was for a condo unit at 400 East 67th Street in Lenox Hill at $10 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a lot at 120 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope at $59.4 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 19,927-square-foot residential building at 91-03 169th Street in Jamaica. Zhi Hui Li of Zhl Realty LLC filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo at 17 East 17th Street in the Flatiron District at $9 million. Compass has the listing.
— Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

Although Westfield Group was founded in Australia, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield doesn’t have any malls in that country. That’s because Westfield’s Australian properties were spun off as Scentre Group — which still uses the “Westfield” brand on their malls. Thank you to Kevin Sun, who provided this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— NYC public schools will reopen in September only if the rate of coronavirus cases remains below 3 percent, Gothamist reports. Mayor Bill de Blasio set the rate, which is lower than the 5 percent cutoff recommended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

— Nello, a well-known Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, had its liquor license suspended after allegedly serving at least eight patrons indoors, the New York Times reports. Indoor dining is still banned under state Covid-19 rules.

— The American Museum of Natural History plans to reopen in September, the New York Post reports. The museum will open its doors Sept. 9, at 25 percent capacity.


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