Op-Ed | Trusted partners must step up for NYC’s recovery to work

New York, streets. High buildings and crowd walking
Photo via Getty Images

New York City is still in the early stages of one of the most daunting recovery efforts in history, pursuing every opportunity where we can bring economic security after a year of turmoil and uncertainty. These times also allow us to imagine a better New York by reinvigorating our public spaces and aiding the evolution of vital industries like hospitality and retail.

Recoveries are also when we are at our most delicate. We need the government and the private sector to work together and bring about the investments we need as a city so that we come back stronger than before. That’s why it’s imperative now more than ever for our city’s most trusted partners to step up.

Across the city, Business Improvement Districts leveraged their relationships with public and private partners to support people and businesses throughout the pandemic. Whether it was transforming physical events into virtual gatherings or boosting the small businesses and restaurants that helped make Open Streets successful in neighborhoods in every borough, many BIDs worked hard to ensure our communities’ shared success and recovery.

Likewise, few institutions are as tethered to New York City the way Macy’s is. It’s a relationship that goes beyond the fact that the internationally celebrated department store is headquartered in Herald Square. Whether it’s the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks®, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or the overall economic impact of its flagship store in the heart of Manhattan, Macy’s is an intrinsic part of New York City and vice versa.

Today, as we focus on what real recovery from the pandemic looks like, Macy’s is once again demonstrating its historic commitment to New York. The company recently introduced an ambitious redevelopment plan that would invest $235 million in much-needed transit and public realm improvements while re-investing in its historic 34th Street location to ensure it continues to be a part of New York City’s story.

Macy’s bold vision for Herald Square is the type of major infrastructure project that has been most important during an economic recovery, directly creating thousands of jobs. When it comes to fruition, their proposal is expected to generate $269 million annually in new tax revenues for New York City, bring 16,290 jobs to the area, and spark $4.29 billion in economic activity every year.

A crucial part of activating that economic energy is ensuring that the public space needs of Herald Square will be met. We have to be ready for the already third-busiest subway station to get busier, and for the crowded intersections to become even more crowded as commuters and tourists surge back into Manhattan.

Macy’s vision for Herald Square offers improved access to subway stations, better connections between transit options, and a modern, pedestrian-friendly space accessible to all passersby. It also includes a new structure atop its existing headquarters that will offer modern office space adjacent to a massive transportation hub, which is ideal for any development project. Those long-term, forward-thinking investments will help New York City escape survival mode and prepare for the moment when the pandemic is firmly behind us.

We can’t be caught flat-footed. We need to be bold and think big. Our longtime partners with demonstrated track records will be instrumental in the work not just to recover but come out stronger than where we were before. That latter part — the need to go beyond where we’ve been before — demands creativity, ambition, and close collaboration.

Given the 162 years of history between us, we’re delighted Macy’s is as invested in New York City’s future as they have been in our past. And in the end, that’s how we will genuinely recover as a city: together.