The president might be eyeing a new role once his term is up: New York City resident.
Obama, who lived in the city for four years in the ’80s, reportedly has confided to friends that he would like to move back to New York City, according to an article posted on Politico on Sunday night.
Sound far-fetched? City political and real estate insiders don’t think so.
Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, said the idea of the first family calling the Big Apple home is conceivable because the city offers Obama a lot of options for his future endeavors.
“It’s a place of ideas and organizations and great wealth that would help make those ideas come to life,” she said.
Greer said that because Obama obviously has a lot of influence in New York political and business realms, being close to those scenes would help him fund his presidential library and any other programs or organizations he’d like to create.
There are also numerous private and public school options for Sasha Obama, who’ll be a high school freshman when Obama leaves office in January 2017, according to Greer.
The White House declined to comment about the report, which said despite his deep roots in Chicago and Hawaii, the president “loves the city and the anonymity it can provide,” and mentioned the several trips he has taken to the city during his six years in office, including a surprise trip to a midtown Gap in February.
Greer brushed aside the notion that the Obamas will have anonymity if they live in Gotham, adding that the president knows the spotlight will never dim.
“No matter where he goes he will be a popular, historic president,” she said.
Real estate experts, however, said that Obama’s stature wouldn’t be a barrier from finding a home that fits for a former president, and most said that Manhattan would be his best bet.
Gary Malin, the president of the real estate group Citi Habitats, said Obama has the savvy to overcome any of the constraints and obstacles that come with being a high-profile New Yorker.
“He has that desire to live in an urban environment where he has a lot of options at his disposal,” he said.
Malin wouldn’t speculate about possible neighborhoods for the first family.
And certainly the rent (or sales price) won’t be “too damn high” for the Obamas: The president’s net worth is said to be close to $6.8 million and past presidents have made millions from public speaking fees alone.
Getting approval from a co-op board, on the other hand, could be an issue, according to Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums. Rothman recalled that Richard Nixon was turned down by an Upper East Side co-op board in 1979 and he eventually bought a town house.
“Boards may be concerned that other shareholders might be unhappy to have to use an elevator with a Secret Service detail,” she said.
Barbara Quintero, an agent at the Manhattan based Aizer Realty Group, suggested the Obamas should also consider refurbishing townhouses or brownstones in midtown or Morningside Heights.
“With these types of properties, you can really make something into a beautiful home,” she said.
Greer predicted that if the president decides to move to Gotham, he won’t find too much animosity or annoyance from New Yorkers. She noted that Harlem was very warm when Bill Clinton arrived in 2001.
“New York welcomes anyone,” she said, “When you think about it, it’s always been open.”
(with Sheila Anne Feeney)