Manhattan is turning into a ghost town. No, we aren't talking about the impending demise of Mars Bar. The Times has dug through census records and found that of the 845,000 apartments and houses on the isle of Manhattan 102,000 were vacant. And of those 33,000, or about one in every 25 Manhattan homes, "had an owner or renter who lived there less than two months of the year." That's up nearly 70 percent since 2000! Time to throw some empty condo parties?
Part of the problem (which isn't a problem for many) is that Manhattan real estate is still considered a good investment, especially as hotel prices continue to soar. So people will buy an apartment here, use it for a few weeks and then leave it vacant until they return. Which means that in places like the the area between East 53rd and 59th Streets bounded by Park and Fifth Avenues there is a higher proportion of apartments occupied for two months or less than in "resort and second-home communities like Aspen, Colo.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Virginia Beach; and Litchfield, Conn."
Some people enjoy the quiet this new development brings with it (“I love getting up in the morning and seeing Park Avenue empty,” one artist told the Grey Lady) while others cluck that it sucks the life out of the city. "My block is like a ghost town," Gay Talese told the Times, before awesomely dubbing the temporary New Yorkers as "skim-milk New Yorkers—only 2 percent."
If the city wants to do something about the pile up of empty apartments there are options. Other cities have have changed their tax codes to make secondary residences have higher taxes than primary homes. But that seems unlikely in a city as deeply ingrained with the business community (which makes up many of the ghost apartment buyers) as New York. Meanwhile the rest of us can wait until the economy really starts tanking before we all start squatting on Park Avenue. Want to get ready for that inevitable future? We know just the guy.