NYT’s ignorant attempt to write Empire State Building obituary


The Empire State Building has survived King Kong, the ridicule of the “Empty State Building” and decades of neglect by previous owners.

Now comes a biased attempt by the New York Times to portray the building as the poster child of a supposed dismal perspective the whole city faces. The approximately 2.7 million square foot offices of the Empire State Building are far smaller than other and new ones. However, no structure is so ‘iconic’ or iconic of the Big Apple, which made it ideal for the Times to take on it.

The story – titled “Why the Empire State Building and New York City might never be the same” – was not a shooting squad execution. Rather, it was a slow agglomeration of misleading data, glaring omissions, intangible minor facts, and whimsical graphics that together might well suggest to a casual reader that, as one caption claimed, ” The future of the world’s most famous skyscraper is in doubt.

No, this is not the case.

The text of the article did not make such a provocative claim. He also didn’t say the Empire State was “emptying its tenants,” as a Page One blurb said on Saturday. The story accurately says: “A vast majority of tenants who have shared their plans remain in the building.”

Yet readers at the age of 10 seconds of online clicks may be more influenced by how a story is framed than by what it actually says. Both print and online presentation, the latter including an “interactive visual feature” which The Times boasted of taking three months to produce, cast an unnecessary destructive shadow over the tall skyscraper at a time of unease. general industry-wide.

Not that there wasn’t a lot of wrong with the text itself. After reiterating old news that the Observatory’s revenue has declined due to lost tourists and that a few shops are closing for equally obvious reasons, a task force of 10 Times reporters “revealed” little about the main component of the tower: its 100 floors of offices.

The empire state building
The Empire State Building has been a staple in New York City since the 1930s.

To illustrate the undeniably tough times in commercial real estate, The Times told us that 19% of Manhattan office space is “available for rent.” This means that 81 percent of offices is not available for hire.

But the newspaper omitted the most salient fact about the Empire State Building, which is, after all, the subject of the story. Namely, that it is currently over 90 percent leased to office tenants who pay rent. In other words, he’s not just in shape, he’s easily outperforming the market.

How could the authors have overlooked such an indispensable fact? Well, “the company that owns the Empire State Building and its CEO, Anthony Malkin, declined to answer questions.” It gave the impression that the company in question, Empire State Realty Trust, had a lot to hide. In fact, ESRT is a publicly traded company bound by strict SEC disclosure rules. Most of what The Times was looking for can be found in publicly available corporate documents posted online. Namely, “Empire State Realty Trust Supplemental Operating and Financial Data,” dated June 30, 2021. It cited the tower occupancy rate of over 90% on page nine.

Ah, but what about the future? All the Times said about future tenant plans was that of tenants the newspaper polled (who occupy less than half of Empire State offices), most said they would adopt a “hybrid” model. For employees to work both in the office and at home.

It wasn’t really late-breaking news – such plans, whether actually implemented or not, were only announced for just about every business, coast to coast.

Perhaps the most serious omission concerns the recent history of the Empire State Building. One financial analyst’s characterization of “a former skyscraper with many small and medium-sized businesses as tenants” was not entirely wrong. But, again, context is everything.

The Times said a large majority of Empire State Building tenants who shared their plans are staying to stay in the iconic skyscraper.
The Times said a large majority of Empire State Building tenants who shared their plans are staying to stay in the iconic skyscraper.
Shannon Stapleton / REUTERS

The Empire State Building is not the creaky old home of shoe wholesalers like those who occupied it decades ago. Since 2005, owners have spent half a billion dollars on widely reported improvements that brought the once-obsolete building into the modern era, including a revealing lobby restoration blessed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. These improvements have helped the building attract tenants such as Coty Ltd. and LinkedIn, and has led to an increase in occupancy from about 70 percent to 90 percent over today. Everyone’s favorite skyline icon isn’t going away anytime soon, no matter how “doubt” the Times throws at it.


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