Times Square post-pandemic openings outstrip closings

Retail rents, hotel occupancy on the rise

Times Square Revival Hits Inflection Point

A photo illustration of Times Square Alliance president Tom Harris (Getty)

Times Square has turned a corner on the pandemic’s devastation of the neighborhood.

The district recently welcomed its 180th business opening since the onset of the pandemic more than three years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported. That surpassed the closures that stemmed from pandemic, though the numbers can still fluctuate.

“We’re obviously very bullish on Times Square,” said Alicart Restaurant Group CEO Jeffrey Bank, who is preparing to open a Mexican eatery next door to his 15,000-square-foot Mermaid Oyster Bar.

Retail has been among the big winners of Times Square’s recovery. In the third quarter, retail rents averaged $1,342 per square foot, according to JLL. That’s a 40 percent jump from last year, when rents hit a pandemic-low of $959 per square foot in the district.

Hotel owners are also seeing green. Last month, hotel occupancy in Times Square and Midtown West hit 88 percent, a post-pandemic high, according to preliminary data from CoStar. The average daily room rate is up more than 10 percent from last year. Almost a quarter of the $1.9 billion in closed hotel sales in Manhattan this year have come in Times Square, according to MSCI Real Assets.

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“Times Square is really getting its legs back underneath it since the pandemic,” Newmark’s Adam Spies told the Journal.

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Despite the good news, the neighborhood still has ground to be made up from its pre-pandemic levels. Retail availability is below last year’s levels, but still above pre-pandemic numbers. Overall foot traffic is down from before the pandemic, according to the Times Square Alliance. Office availability remains high and Broadway ticket sales and attendance — the engine that powers the neighborhood — remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Times Square made headlines in recent months as the proposed site of SL Green and Caesars Entertainment’s bid for one of three New York City-area casino licenses. The companies partnered with rapper and business mogul Jay-Z for its pitch at 1515 Broadway. 

Holden Walter-Warner