Leadership & Transit: We must do better Miami

In the summer of 2000 I moved from Guatemala to Miami. I had just completed a two year stint in the Peace Corps and my parents had recently moved to Miami from New York. At the ripe age of 26, with no game plan, I moved to the 305 to figure out my next step. Two decades later, here I am, in the city I have grown to love.

There are many wonderful things  about our young city. The mix of cultures and ideas is probably what keeps me and my family here. Miami has a good balance of both American, Latin American, Caribbean and European cultures. All cities are unique, but Miami has a certain flair that keeps many of us here and attracts people from all over the world.  Miami is one of a kind and it is home.

There’s a lot to like about our city, but the one thing Miami lacks is leadership and it’s in times of crisis that our leaders show their true colors. Several weeks ago our leadership hit rock bottom when Mayor Carlos Gimenez, using the protests as an excuse, decided to shut down our transit system for an entire day on Sunday May 31, 2020. Without warning, the 40,000 people that depend on transit, on any given Sunday, were left out to dry. It’s important to note that no other major city in the US shut down their entire transit system for a day during the recent protests. Many cities reduced and/or rerouted service, but no other transit system in our country shut down. 

Transit Alliance Miami put it perfectly in a letter addressed to Mayor Carlos Gimenez. 

Dear Mayor Gimenez, 

We understand and recognize that this is an incredibly challenging time for our community. However, a complete and total shutdown of a transit system in response to localized protests and violence is an unprecedented response. In a community as diverse as ours, a shutdown of this magnitude is not only counterproductive to many working families struggling with the effects of the pandemic – but it also unreasonably affects transit-dependent Black and Brown communities who are at the heart of our nationwide need to heal, and promote justice and solidarity. 

All other major cities facing similar circumstances opted for responsive, localized transit service suspensions and temporary road closures in response to their evolving situation, and resumed their transit services today. It would be unprecedented to shut down the entire road network in response to the events of last night, yet that’s what we have done to our transit system – in a community with 90,000 households that do not own a vehicle and still need to buy their groceries, access medical services, and get to work on a Sunday. 

36% of transit commuters in Miami are essential workers, who are more likely to work on Sunday. They and thousands of other transit commuters woke up today lucky to have a job, but stranded without service. Our community is hurting, and we are sending a clear message to struggling families – you can’t depend on transit to put food on your table, you need a car. Without it, you may be stranded by no fault of your own, and your livelihood will be at risk.

Businesses countywide are also reopening as part of the recovery and can’t do so without their workers. However, what will cause greater long-term damage, is that because of shutdowns like today, employers will continue to discriminate against those who do not have a vehicle, exacerbating long-term destructive trends for working families struggling to make ends meet.

Most importantly, 34% of transit commuters are Black, and 51% are Hispanic or Latino, with research demonstrating that they are more likely to be essential workers. A complete system shutdown deepens the racial and economic inequities that have contributed to the unjust reality that Black and Brown communities face today, by further isolating them from their fellow citizens and making their lives during this incredibly challenging time even harder.

We urge you to reinstate transit service, especially along major corridors and, as needed, consider temporary localized service suspensions instead of blanket shutdowns, which may be equally effective at preventing further violence but avoid the collateral damage against the working families of our County.

Thank you for your consideration and attention. 

Sincerely, 

Transit Alliance Miami

Even if you don’t use public transit (I rarely do) we should all be outraged. With so many people struggling, it’s unfathomable, that our leadership can defend such a decision. Imagine finishing a graveyard shift, you’re already exhausted and struggling to make ends meet and now you have to pay for a $20 Uber to get home? 

To add insult to injury, Mayor Gimenez has done nothing to improve our transit and mobility options during our Covid-19 crisis. Other than reducing transit service, Miami Dade County Transit has yet to close any travel lanes or streets to accommodate cyclists, pedestrians and  struggling restaurants. Meanwhile, there are dozens upon dozens of cities across the world that have taken the initiative to make cycling a mobility priority and they have created temporary protected bike lanes to encourage cycling and to provide another alternative to transit.  

Here’s CBS4’s Jim DeFede interviewing Mayor Carlos Gimenez about the transit shutdown. Roll the tape… this interview speaks volumes about our Mayor’s character. There simply wasn’t a justifiable reason to shut down an entire transit system for an entire day. Full stop.

During his twelve years as Miami Dade County Mayor, Mr. Gimenez’s administration has failed at every level when it comes to transit and mobility in our county.  His administration has very little to show for with regards to investing in transit. Pandering to special interests he pushed hard for a $1 billion 836 extension through wetlands in western Miami-Dade, but thankfully a judge recently ruled against citing “meager” traffic improvements. 

His greatest transit achievement so far was to hand over $76 million to Brightline, a privately-owned passenger rail company, to build a station in Aventura. Not satisfied with this handout, Miami Dade County Commissioners are considering giving Brightline an additional $350 million to build 5 additional train stations in Wynwood, the Design District, 79th Street, North Miami and the Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University. In addition, the county would have to pay yearly rent on company tracks starting at $29 million.

You will probably not find a stronger supporter for mass transit then myself, however giving a private company tax-payer dollars, without stipulating beforehand the cost of fares, schedules and integration with the current MDC Metrocard fare system, seems like the minimum bar for negotiation.  It doesn’t appear that Miami Dade County has an agreement from Brightline that stipulates any of this so far. How is this possible? 


When it comes to other mobility options Miami Dade County leadership has also neglected to provide safer infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. According to Smart Growth America, Miami Dade County is the 14th most dangerous metropolitan area in the US for cyclists and pedestrians. Leadership at Miami Dade County and the State of Florida (Governor & Florida Department of Transportation) are to blame since they own, design, and control most of MDC’s roads. At the state level transit policy is even more embarrassing when it comes to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Florida is the deadliest state in the country for those of us humans that choose to walk or bike in beautiful Florida. We have the Florida Department of Transportation to thank for this grim statistic. It’s still too early to tell if Governor DeSantis will step-up to the plate and force some changes at FDOT. Fingers crossed. He inherited an FDOT with a culture that prioritizes the automobile rather than the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

Leadership Matters

Miami is in desperate need of leadership. In my twenty years of living in Miami, the closest we’ve had to a visionary leader was former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. (I won’t cut Manny Diaz any slack on the Marlins Stadium deal) We need leaders that are willing to challenge the status quo, do things differently and put the needs of our community first. 

We need leaders that understand zoning and transit. Some of the most pressing issues we have in Miami are centered around housing affordability, transit and crime. It all starts with zoning. If your zoning sucks, your city will suffer. With proper zoning many of our growing pains can be more easily mitigated.  

Under Manny Diaz’s leadership the City of Miami adopted a form-based zoning code that encourages mixed-uses, density, walkability, affordability and transit-use. Unincorporated Miami Dade County, as well as the other 33 incorporated cities in MDC should consider a form-based code for their respective municipalities. Here is why: A zoning ordinance provides the rules that developers are allowed to play by in order to build our cities. Zoning and transit go hand-in-hand. If we, as a region, cannot get our zoning right, we will never get the development we want that is necessary to support a world class public transit system. In other words, we won’t be able to build a thriving and growing South Florida metropolis for future generations if we don’t get serious about zoning and transit.  It’s that simple, however this is not an easy task, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  In order to do so, we need to elect an enlightened Miami Dade County mayor that would be willing to put our community first and work with the following stakeholders: 

  • The 103 cities & 3 counties that make up South Florida (not including Monroe County)
  • 3 county transit agencies (Miami-Dade Transit, Broward Transit and Palm Tran) 
  • 5 agencies that control South Florida roads (Miami Dade County , Broward County, Palm Beach County, FDOT and MDX), 
  • South Florida Regional Transit Agency (Controls Tri-Rail) 
  • Brightline (private commuter rail on the FECR line)

So far these are the candidates we have running for Miami Dade County Mayor for the election being held in November 2020.  Please choose wisely. 

  • Monique Nicole Barley, businesswoman and daughter of former State Representative Roy Hardemon 
  • Esteban Bovo, Miami-Dade County commissioner 
  • Robert Ingram Burke, candidate for mayor of Miami in 2017 
  • Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County commissioner 
  • Ludmilla Domond, real estate agent
  • Alex Penelas, former Mayor of Miami-Dade County 
  • Xavier Suarez, Miami-Dade County commissioner and former mayor of Miami 

Miami CRE: Hospitality, Retail & COVID-19

The last two months have been a roller coaster ride for all of us. It’s probably still too early to say what impact  COVID-19 will have on commercial real estate in Miami, however, it seems like hospitality (hotels and short-term rentals) and retail assets will be the most vulnerable of the CRE asset classes.  If social distancing continues until the end of the year, or if there is a second wave of infections, hospitality and retail assets could see significant downside repricing in the next 6-24 months. 

According to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) in 2018 :

  • Greater Miami and the Beaches had 16.5 million overnight visitors in, along with 6.8 million “day trippers” for a total visitor number of 23.3 million.
  • Visitors had an economic impact of nearly $18 billion, fueled mostly by international visitors. 
  • The travel and hospitality sector employed a record 142,100 people (11.9% of all employees in Miami-Dade work in hospitality and leisure).
  • Greater Miami’s hotel market ranked in the top 10 among the top 25 hotel markets in the U.S. according to STR. 
  • International visitors comprised 35% of the overnight market, with 5.8 million visitors, and contributed about 54% of the total visitor expenditure because of longer stays in the destination. 
  • Latin America remained a key feeder market, generating the top three countries of origin for overnight international visitors into Greater Miami: Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. Combined, these three countries delivered more than 20% of the international overnight visitors. 
  • Latin America as a region represented 45% of the total overnight visitors. 
  • Domestic overnight visitors (not including Florida Residents) represented 38% of the total overnight visitor market, with 6.2 million traveling to the Greater Miami area and representing 34% of visitor expenditures. 
  • New York City remained the largest domestic overnight market, contributing more than 1.2 million visitors or 20% of the total domestic overnight market.
  • Cruise travel as a reason to visit Greater Miami continues to grow, with more than one in 10 visitors traveling to the destination for a cruise.  Miami Dade County had 6 million cruise passengers.. 
  • More than 22 million passengers arrived at MIA. 
  • Nearly two-thirds of overnight visitors to Greater Miami arrived by air. 
  • Greater Miami and the Beaches had an ADR (average daily rate) of $199.35 and a Hotel Occupancy rate of 76.7%. Occupancy and ADR resulted in RevPAR (revenue per available room) of $152.81. 
  • Tourists spent an average of $279.48 a day and stayed an average of 5.86 nights. With total spending averaging $1,637.75 per person per visit, the majority spent on shopping and lodging.

Then came the “The Rona” lockdown…

According to the Miami Herald:

  • Among the top 25 tourism markets in the nation, Miami posted the largest decline in ADR for the week ending April 18 — a 56.8 percent drop to $101.51 from the same week last year, according to data from STR, an industry tracking firm.
  • In Miami-Dade, occupancy from Apr. 12-18 was 20.3 percent, which is 75.4 percent lower than the same week last year. The RevPAR was at $20.59, an 89.3 percent slide from last April.
  • Miami International Airport passenger traffic has dropped 90% since March,
  • Around 75% of hotel hourly workers have lost their jobs.

Air Travel & Cruising 

In early May, Warren Buffett, announced that Berkshire Hathaway was selling all of its substantial holdings in the four major U.S. airlines: American, Delta, United, and Southwest. Of all the industries disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown the airlines’ situation is in a sense the worst. Absent a vaccine (which is highly unlikely in the short term) will people feel safe going to an airport or sitting with 150 strangers on a plane? Probably not. Particularly if you are elderly or have a preexisting condition. 

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Real Estate Spotlight: Gary Ressler, Principal, The TILIA Companies

Gary Ressler moved to Miami in 2001 to assume operations of TILIA Real Estate (formerly ABC Management Services, Inc.), a family-owned and operated commercial real estate management and development firm.

Mr. Ressler’s family owns and operates one of Miami’s most iconic and historic pieces of real estate in downtown Miami, The Alfred I. DuPont Building, which was purchased by Mr. Ressler’s family in 1991 for $8,500,000. Construction on the DuPont Building started in 1937 and it was completed in 1939. It was the first skyscraper built after the County courthouse and the bust of 1928. On January 4, 1989, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The Alfred I. duPont Building reflects the culture and designs of past eras. The Art Deco style of the late 1920s to 1930s is prevalent throughout, from the granite and limestone aesthetics of the exterior to the delicately painted cypress ceiling and marble paneling of the interior. 

Mr. Ressler launched the TILIA Lifestyle Companies in 2002 with the opening of The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building Special Events Venue – an award-winning event venue in the heart of downtown Miami – followed by TILIA Events, a full service Event Production Company.

The company launched TILIA Management, providing customer-focused, detail-oriented back-office support and consulting services to professional and financial firms in both regulated and unregulated industries, in 2008.

In 2012, TILIA Real Estate expanded once more into residential development, launching and completing Centro Condominiums, a 350+-unit workforce condo tower in the heart of Miami’s Central Business District.

I’ve known Gary for the past 6 years (full disclosure: Gridics, the company I co-founded, has an office in the Dupont Building). Gary is a fellow urbanist and deeply cares about improving the quality of life for all Miamians. Gary currently serves as a Trustee of The Miami Foundation, he’s on the Board of Directors of The Flagler Business Improvement District (Flagler BID,) which he co-founded, and on the Board of Directors of the City of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA.) Gary was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in New York City. He is married, has three daughters and lives on Miami Beach with his family. 

The CRE Jedi: Gary Ressler, Principal, The TILIA Companies

Image: Miami New Times

The Asset: The Alfred I. DuPont Building

A Conversation With Mr. Ressler

Stoic Urbanist: What is a regular day for you?

Mr. Ressler: Pre- or Post-Corona? Because nothing is regular any longer… Every day begins the same way, which is centering: making breakfast for my three daughters (6, 10, & 12). Otherwise, I spend a lot of time connecting with our assets and their users. Particularly in these challenging times, engagement and communication with our clients, owners, and teammates is paramount. I spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings. I believe very strongly in collaboration, so regular, spontaneous, communication and feedback is essential to successful planning and implementation.

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Transit & mobility in the era of Covid-19

Good Afternoon Governor DeSantis and Mayor Gimenez, 

Hope this email finds you and your families in good health during these challenging times. 

I’d like to start off by congratulating both of you for handling a difficult situation which we have found ourselves in. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article a couple of days ago and it seems like Florida and Miami Dade County are doing a lot things right, but as always, there is room for improvement especially when it comes to addressing mobility in the era of social distancing. 

Here are some facts:

  • Miami Dade Transit ridership has fallen by 80% since mid-March (Miami Today News)
  • In the last 6 weeks VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) have decreased by as much 50% in the country’s largest cities (24/7 Wall St.)
  • Travel speeds are increasing in cities by as much as 70% since social distancing orders were put in place (24/7 Wall St.
  • Bicycle use has surged in the US during the past 6 weeks. (Reuters)
  • Nearly 20% of Miami households don’t own a car (Governing)
  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)  and Miami Dade County control our roads

Seems fair to assume:

  • Transit ridership will suffer in the short term until a vaccine is discovered or we reach herd immunity (whichever comes first).
  • We need to provide alternative mobility options for our residents while social distancing is in effect. 
  • As long as our children cannot return to school or attend summer camps, traffic levels will remain low. 

During the past 6 weeks there has been a tremendous increase in people using bicycles for transportation and recreation. Many people still need to get to work and are afraid to use public transit. Unfortunately, there is a significant percentage of Miami’s population that cannot afford a car nor do they feel safe riding public transit, so it’s no surprise that cycling has become the transportation of choice for many. 

Cycling has also become a leading recreational choice since mid-March. On weekends there are now tens of thousands of people riding bicycles with their families on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Cyclists easily outnumber cars 50 to 1 in Miami’s CBD (Bayshore, Brickell, Rickenbacker Causeway, Biscayne Boulevard and the Venetian Causeway) on weekend mornings, yet the County nor FDOT have done anything to make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. 

Given that VMT has decreased significantly and cycling and walking has increased exponentially during the past 6 weeks, why hasn’t Miami Dade County and FDOT created bicycle-only travel lanes on the aforementioned roads to allow Miami Dade County’s residents to properly social distance and get much needed exercise on temporary protected bike lanes? 

What are our next steps to make this happen? Here are some ideas that other cities are embracing. 

This does not need to be an expensive undertaking nor do we need to overthink this. Orange traffic cones are an inexpensive solution that can be implemented quickly. 

There are a number of cities across the world that are taking action to make our cities more livable during these challenging times. Let’s lead by example. 

Look forward to working with FDOT and Miami Dade County to make our streets safer for our families during these challenging times. 

Felipe Azenha

Covid-19’s Impact on Urbanism, the Economy and Commercial Real Estate

The last month has been a doozy to say the least. For most of us we have never experienced a pandemic of this scale in our lifetime. Businesses have closed their doors and our city streets are mostly empty. Markets have been more volatile than in 2008 and it seems like volatility will continue into the foreseeable future until there is more certainty about what impact Covid-19 will have globally. 

Seems like our “normal way of life” has changed considerably in just several weeks. No one knows how long social-distancing will go on for.  But the longer it does go on, the greater the impact it will have on urbanism, the economy and real estate. Our normal way of life will likely change, but hopefully for the better. One thing is for sure, life has slowed down for many of us and that is probably a good thing. 

Urbanism

As an urbanist I am enjoying the less congested streets. Bicycling has become more enjoyable and aggressive driving behavior seems to have declined in the last month. For the most part motorists seem to be more respectful of cyclists and people walking. In my Miami yuppy/hipster neighborhood there are exponentially more people walking, biking and running with their families than 1 month ago. In fact, I’ve never seen so many people walking or sitting on their front porch in the ten years I’ve lived in my neighborhood.  My local bike shop said business has been booming since “social-distancing” became a thing. With gyms closing, more and more people are dusting off bicycles and they are getting around on 2 wheels. It’s a beautiful thing for us urbanists to experience.  

Biking in the Time of Covid-19

Last month, a group of nearly 50 academics and experts on public health and transport wrote an open letter to the UK government urging elected officials to encourage walking and biking amid the crisis. According to The Verge, the Colombian capital, Bogota, is adding 47 miles of bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transport and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  New York City, which has witnessed a surge in cycling as people avoid public transportation, has said it would install bike lanes on 2nd Avenue between 34th and 42nd streets in Manhattan and Smith Street in Brooklyn. Mexico City is considering a fourfold increase to its cycling network. With parks, beaches and playgrounds closing our streets have become our default public spaces. Seems like closing some streets to motor vehicles in order to allow people to bike and walk safely is a no-brainer. Cities can quickly and inexpensively create protected bike lanes by simply closing traffic lanes for cyclists and pedestrians by erecting orange cones. We’ve already seen a significant decrease in traffic volume, so closing lanes of traffic would have minimal effect on traffic. 

Source: INRIX

Hopefully more cities will start taking steps to make our streets safer during this time of increased demand from cyclists and from people walking, running and skating.  It seems like we’ll be on lockdown until the end of April and it’s important that people stay healthy by exercising. 

The Economy

The more prolonged our containment measures are in effect the greater the dramatic plunge in production and trade. Last month Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley, wrote  “Flattening the Pandemic and Recession Curves”. In short, flattening the infection curve inevitably steepens the macroeconomic recession curve.  

According to Professor Pierre-Oliver Gourinchas:

Consider China, or Italy: increasing social distances has required closing schools, universities, most non-essential businesses, and asking most of the working-age population to stay at home. While some people may be able to work from home, this remains a small fraction of the overall labor force. Even if working from home is an option, the short-term disruption to work and family routines is major and likely to affect productivity. In short, the -appropriate- public health policy plunges the economy into a sudden stop. To wit, all indicators coming out of China, for instance, indicate a dramatic plunge in production and trade.

The first thing to note is that, even in that `perfect’ world, the economic damage would be considerable. To see this, assume that, relative to a baseline, containment measures reduce economic activity by 50% for one month and 25% for another month, after which the economy returns to the baseline. Such a sharp but short-lived decline in activity does not seem unreasonable if one thinks that a majority of the labor force is currently shuttered at home in places like Italy or China. In fact, we could anticipate a much more drawn out process. Yet, that scenario would still deliver a massive blow to headline GDP numbers, with a decline in annual output growth of the order of 6.5% relative to the previous year. Extend the 25% shutdown for just another month and the decline in annual output growth (relative to the previous year) reaches almost 10%!”

This is a slippery slope for all of us. If strict containment goes on for much longer  Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted the U.S. unemployment rate may hit 30% in the second quarter because of shutdowns to combat the coronavirus, with an unprecedented 50% drop in gross domestic product.

The real estate industry will be severely impacted. Rents and mortgages will likely go unpaid and non-performing loans will likely mount. This is a big threat to the $3 trillion commercial mortgage market according to The Wall Street Journal. Lacking rental revenue, many property owners could default on their mortgages—forcing banks, already struggling with the pandemic’s fallout, to write down loans and raise capital to cover for their losses. 

Cities, counties and states will also face some tough times ahead. Property values will likely decline, which will directly affect property taxes, the main sources of revenue for cities and counties. Consumers are only spending on essentials, so sales tax revenues will decrease for states during a time when Coronavirus pandemic-related expenses are increasing. 

A recession is coming according to Professor Gourinchas. From his perspective the priority should be:

(a) to ensure that workers can remain employed -and collect their paycheck- even if quarantined or forced to stay home to look after dependents. Temporary layoff assistance is a key component. Without it, it is even unclear whether public health advisories can be followed. Households need to be able to make basic payments (rent, utilities, mortgages, insurance). 

(b) to ensure that firms can weather the storm without going into bankruptcy, with easier borrowing terms, possibly temporarily waving tax or payroll payments, suspending loan payments, or providing direct financial assistance where needed;

(c) to support the financial system as non-performing loans will mount, so as to ensure the crisis does not morph into a financial crisis

Real Estate After Covid-19

Once Coronavirus is a thing of the past (and it will be), there will likely be some changes as it relates to real estate. The retail, hospitality and office assets classes are the most likely to be negatively impacted. Multifamily, self storage and industrial will likely be the winners.

Retail

Retail will likely be the biggest loser. Many retailers (restaurants included), which were already struggling, will likely never reopen their doors. Those that do, will quickly discover that many of their customers are now unemployed and are only spending money on essentials. Underwriting retail deals will be tricky in this environment because there are so many unknowns when it comes to the behavior of consumer spending. Vacancy rates will likely increase dramatically. For the opportunistic real estate investor, with cash in hand and a long-term outlook, this could be a great buying opportunity. 

Hospitality

Hotels and short-term rentals will be hit hard. International travel will likely be impacted for at least the next 3 to 4 months. It will be some time before conferences and events with hundreds or thousands of attendees can go on. Domestic hospitality will likely recover more quickly, but there will still be plenty of pain. It will be interesting to see if short-term rentals are able to transition back to multifamily rentals where we are likely  to see greater demand as homes are foreclosed on. I suspect that many of the short-term rentals were underwritten with much higher ARRs (Average Room Rate) than a multifamily monthly rental so we will likely see an increase in short-term rental foreclosures. 

Office

The office sector will likely feel some pain, as many employers will likely realize that many of their employees are capable of working from home responsibly (and probably more productively). So it seems like there will be less demand for office space. Companies will likely downsize office space and have more “shared work spaces” .  That being said humans are social animals and 90% of our communication is non-verbal. We need human interaction to work efficiently. Remote work will likely be an occasional tool for us to use at most 2 or 3 times per week. 

Multifamily & Self Storage

As people lose jobs and paychecks are cut, foreclosures are likely to increase.  Everyone needs a roof over their heads, so multifamily should do well as people look to downsize and cut expenses. But where will Americans put all their useless junk they rarely use? Self Storage. Both of these asset classes did well in the last recession and they will likely do the same in this downturn. 

Industrial

Covid-19 has forced most people to do their non-essential shopping online. This will have a direct impact on supply chain logistics of goods and the winner here is industrial. Retail’s loss will be e-commerce’s gain in the long run, with industrial investments looking more attractive as physical retail has been exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Life after Covid-19

The longer social-distancing goes on the greater the negative impact it will have on our economy and real estate. Ironically, the longer social-distancing goes on the greater the positive impact it will probably have on urbanism. Hopefully, people will come to miss safer bike rides, spending more quality time with their families, going for walks and getting to know their neighbors.   

So when will social distancing end? It all comes down to how many deaths we as a society are willing to deem acceptable. As “The Donald” stated  every year 40,000 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes (a pandemic in its own right). Many of these crashes are preventable if we designed roads that prioritized safety of all users rather than moving motor vehicles quickly.  Many Coronavirus deaths can also be prevented if we prioritize social distancing over opening up the economy quickly. As a society we are willing to turn a blind eye to the 40,000 people that are killed every year and the hundreds of thousands of people that are critically injured in motor-vehicle crashes. Is our priority saving lives or saving the economy?  My guess is that at some point we will prioritize the economy. This will probably happen sooner rather than later. Hopefully we won’t forget about all the good that has come out of social distancing and the quick and positive impact it has had on urbanism, even if it was only for a couple of short months.