New Yorkers should expect to see Manhattan office buildings fill up more by early next year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show Friday morning.
The comment came after Lehrer asked the mayor to confirm or refute claims that the city had agreed to bring back 25% of city workers by the end of the year. As of Sept. 18, only 10% of Manhattan office workers had returned to their buildings, the Wall Street Journal reported late last month.
De Blasio confirmed that City Hall had indeed been considering bringing back more of its workforce, but new developments were put on hold due to the recent COVID clusters in Brooklyn and Queens. City officials will decide when to increase the percent of city workers allowed back in buildings based on how the city “comes out” of the boroughs’ problem areas.
“It’s all going to be based on what our healthcare situation is and what our positivity level is,” de Blasio said. De Blasio add that it has been difficult to allow for more office workers to return to midtown given its large concentration of office workers.
De Blasio then reminded listeners that although midtown offices may not be full, that the city’s outer boroughs are “vibrant” and full of activity.
“I think that a lot of business leaders think of the world as midtown out and the rest as ancillary and I think it’s the other away around,” de Blasio said. “Midtown is important but it is not the center of the universe.”
The comment paralleled an earlier statement de Blasio made during his interview with Lehrer in which he called President Donald Trump’s description of New York City as a “ghost town” during Thursday night’s presidential debate a “fallacy” and “unfair.”
“Look at what’s happened to New York, it’s a ghost town,” said Trump.” For so many years I loved it, it was vibrant–it’s dying, everyone is leaving New York.”
President Trump first referred to the city as a “ghost town” during the first presidential debate with former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. New Yorkers quickly mocked the comment on social media with many posting photos of people struggling to find parking, enjoying outdoor dining, walking their dogs, and in general continuing on with life in the new normal.
“Areas like midtown have a long way to go but we have made a hell of a lot of progress,” de Blasio said. “You know I turn it on him, the only ghost town is going to be Mar a Lago after he is forced out of office by the decision of the people on election day,” de Blasio said.