Small Talk: Wildly Accurate Predictions for the Long Term Impacts of Coronavirus on Real Estate

Office-to-mall conversions, extremely wide elevators and more

TRD NATIONAL /
Apr.April 03, 2020 10:30 AM
Totally accurate predictions for the long-term impacts of coronavirus on real estate: office-to-mall conversions, wide elevators and more (Credit: iStock)

Totally accurate predictions for the long-term impacts of coronavirus on real estate: office-to-mall conversions, wide elevators and more (Credit: iStock)

If there’s one thing I know about the long term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on real estate, it’s that no one really knows what the long term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on real estate will be at this point. So here are some very smart predictions about how the coronavirus pandemic will impact real estate in the long term that will all definitely come true:

Demand for office space will plummet, and office landlords will cope by turning their buildings into shopping malls. One of the key takeaways from the pandemic has been realizing just how many jobs workers can do while wearing pajama pants and only commuting from their bed to their desk on the other side of the bedroom. To combat the potential for lower office space demand after the pandemic, smart office landlords will start converting their properties into shopping malls, which have been in decline for years and are thus long overdue for a comeback. Get ready for the eagerly anticipated return of Sam Goody, Waldenbooks and more!

Alaska’s Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area will become the latest enclave for New York’s wealthiest. Many of the city’s well-off residents have spent the current pandemic fleeing to less densely populated places like the Hamptons. However, they are already facing a backlash for doing so, and the Hamptons still have a fairly high amount of people living in them. The true status symbol after the pandemic will be owning real estate in Alaska’s Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, which spans more than 145,000 square miles but is only home to about 5,000 people. The lack of dog walkers and trendy Asian fusion restaurants will be a small price to pay for the low risk of coming into contact with a diseased person. Or just a person, period.

Extremely wide elevators will be the latest must-have amenity in new residential buildings. Forget roof decks, gyms, and swimming pools. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest must-have amenity at fancy residential buildings will be an elevator that is wide enough to let people stand at least six feet away from anyone else who gets in it at the same time as they do. Because while the pandemic may change a lot of things, it will do nothing to impact how much Americans hate walking up stairs.

Scientists will finally develop flying cars. Maybe. Please? Every time we go through some sort of society-altering crisis, I start hoping that we’ll come out the other side of it with flying cars. It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe coronavirus is the one. The risk of these cars crashing into buildings will be the factor that finally brings down residential rents in New York.

Hotels will lure back customers by putting a copy of “Moby-Dick” in every room. Gideon Bibles already come standard in hotel rooms across the country, but after months of being warned against leaving their homes, it will likely take more than a complimentary bible to convince Americans that they should start traveling and staying in hotels again. Knowing that a dense 19th century symbolist tome is waiting for them in their rooms will be the perfect motivation to get them back on the road.

The search for the next Williamsburg will continue unabated. Nothing will ever stop the New York real estate industry from its Sisyphean quest for the amorphous concept that is “the next Williamsburg.” If the only survivors of the pandemic are a pair of cockroaches that have been hiding in the walls of a broker’s office, they will spend all of their remaining days arguing about which part of the city is best primed to combine those ineffable qualities of affordability and cool and how long they have before it really takes off.


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