Post-COVID Urbanism Discussion

F-Line to Dudley

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Economy gets worse, you'd expect higher crime, no?
Missing ingredient is the breakdown of cultural norms. That happens when the economy tanks because the alienating effects of the pulse in income stratification induces fracturing of formerly semi-stable communities and precipitous decline in formerly unstable ones. Anomie in its varied forms.

However...this pandemic doesn't necessarily follow the same playbook because right now we're way more clued into public health harms reductions and what other people are doing viz-a-viz that. Yes, people are more isolated...but stuff like social distancing, mask wearing, etc. is also community-enforced so in some key aspects the ties that bind our norms are stronger than in the usual economic crises (see also: parenting, and stressful adjustments-on-fly to parenting skills being a form of great equalizer felt across all strata of society right now). Plus there's a whole bunch of other upheaval competing for our attention sending stray variables into the mix. I could see both increases and decreases in certain types of crime, cutting counterintuitively like we haven't seen before...and it taking a really long time for us to process why because there's still a lot that's going on we don't have good enough understanding of.

You can pretty much throw out your Sociology 101 book on anomie; we're writing an entirely different one here.
 

George_Apley

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Maybe I'm insulated here in Boston, but has the economy fallen out of big cities?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Maybe I'm insulated here in Boston, but has the economy fallen out of big cities?
Arizona cities say: "Mommy, help." Vegas eyeballs the second wave and sez: "Don't cry for me, I'm already dead."

Most of the real damage is yet to come in the states that didn't heed the warnings, as secondary shutdowns and delayed reopenings are going to lay waste to urban economies worse than the herd-survival mentality of the first wave where it was everyone's shared burden nationwide. Throw in the amplification effects of states that are doing next to nothing for assistance (or worse, treating it as a political excuse for austerity measures). And amplification for the states that passed up earlier Medicaid expansion, expanded unemployment, etc. when the getting was good for those initiatives and have far less of an incumbent lifeboat to offer in a shock disruption. There's going to be a much wider divide emerging between the cities that weathered it for '20 and the cities that got pummeled by it for a much longer term and more fraught recovery '21 and beyond.

Put it this way. The Northeastern megalopolis is going to have some semblance of an intact Xmas consumer season and bowed-but-not-broken earnings targets for its retail sector, which will almost be cause for a victory lap given what we've gone through. Florida Man will not. The difference will show itself starkly come Q1/Q2 '21 whose retail & event downtowns are persevering vs. reeling. If I'm a mall conglomerate owner right now I'm wondering how in the hell I'm going to rent out enough "zombie" store spaces in Greater Tampa for pennies on the dollar to Amazon delivery fronts before it's time to fess up that it won't even pay the utility bills and it's time to darken the whole 30-acre complex. Next year will be very unbelievably bad for some metro area economies. The affected areas just aren't going to draw out on a map like a conventional regional or national recession would.
 

KentXie

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Maybe I'm insulated here in Boston, but has the economy fallen out of big cities?
Los Angeles unemployment is near or above 20% so it really depends on the industry. Safe to say, some cities are getting hit much harder than others.
 

George_Apley

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Once the Govt checks run out--- what do you think is going to happen in the inner cities?
Did Congress pass a second stimulus I'm unaware of? Stimulus checks were deposited/cashed months ago.

Also... stay away from the "welfare queen" adjacent signaling por favor.
 

Johnnyrocket891

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Did Congress pass a second stimulus I'm unaware of? Stimulus checks were deposited/cashed months ago.

Also... stay away from the "welfare queen" adjacent signaling por favor.
Not yet.

The problem is the so called Boston economy is built on nothing more than a pile of sand. If it wasn't for the Fed buying tens of trillions in worthless bonds the Seaport would have already sunk into the ocean of leveraged debt.
Boston landlords will have to adjust to lower rents in the future to reshape Boston.

The new buildings and the developers that are leveraged that need $80 a square foot are in trouble.
 

bakgwailo

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Not yet.

The problem is the so called Boston economy is built on nothing more than a pile of sand. If it wasn't for the Fed buying tens of trillions in worthless bonds the Seaport would have already sunk into the ocean of leveraged debt.
Boston landlords will have to adjust to lower rents in the future to reshape Boston.

The new buildings and the developers that are leveraged that need $80 a square foot are in trouble.
Last I checked our economy is built on being the hub of the world in bio tech, the 2nd/3rd strongest startup/tech market in the market, the top hospitals in the world, the best higher education market, etc. We are the 25th top financial centre (GFCI) in the world, 6th in the US. I guess having a mixed economy built on biotech, education, medicine/heath care, banking, and tech is nothing but a pile of sand :rolleyes:
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Last I checked our economy is built on being the hub of the world in bio tech, the 2nd/3rd strongest startup/tech market in the market, the top hospitals in the world, the best higher education market, etc. We are the 25th top financial centre (GFCI) in the world, 6th in the US. I guess having a mixed economy built on biotech, education, medicine/heath care, banking, and tech is nothing but a pile of sand :rolleyes:
Yeah...we aren't the source problem. We're excellently positioned to bend but never break in a 100-year existential crisis such as this, thanks to a lot of backbreaking reinvention work over the last 35 years.

Us being pushed beyond our limits as a 'donor' region to other metro areas who are economically built on proverbial piles of sand is...however...the destabilizing threat no one is immune from. There are definite limits to how much the "Acela Corridor" is capable of bailing out Vegas...or the southwestern sprawl careening straight into an existence-destroying water crisis...or fossil-fuel boomtowns that still won't adjust (i.e. anywhere below the "Houston threshold" on buy-a-clue sustainability practice)...or Florida Man being unwilling to change in the face of anything (climate change, collapsing retirement demographic, post-COVID tourism practices, too many decades of sprawl-zoning stupidity and low-tax incentive "magical thinking" colliding head-on with all of the above). And so on and so on.

All ^that^ is pants-shitty scary, and quite a bit more entrenched than simple Red State vs. Blue State donor vs. recipient conventional wisdom. Wild imbalance hurts, even when some areas draw the luckier straw on which extreme end of the wild imbalance they live on. We've got the economic metastability with our diversity...but things are not going to snap back to being 'stable-stable' across-the-board like they were before when so many other urban areas in the U.S. are going to be under continuing mortal threat for extended duration. Stability is definitely something that's best when shared...and right now it is in a most very schizo place where it's being shared. No possible way of spinning that as good news for us, even if the overall news and long-term prognosis for us is still very much "a'ight".
 

jklo

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I would be concerned if WFH gets that popular.
I would be concerned if The Rona makes the OOFP unpopular. That's a big part of making the numbers work in Boston.
I would be concerned if the students stay away. Companies are here for a reason, and cheap dispoable grads might be the #1 reason.
 

Johnnyrocket891

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Last I checked our economy is built on being the hub of the world in bio tech, the 2nd/3rd strongest startup/tech market in the market, the top hospitals in the world, the best higher education market, etc. We are the 25th top financial centre (GFCI) in the world, 6th in the US. I guess having a mixed economy built on biotech, education, medicine/heath care, banking, and tech is nothing but a pile of sand :rolleyes:
It seems that Boston is in a debt bubble like the rest of the US cities and that is why a 5 month pandemic has basically crippled our economic engine.

Did 1957 pandemic cripple the United States economy? My family said they don't even remember this.

LA--- Record homelessness its the year 2020. What is going on with our Inner cities? This was way before Covid-19
https://abc7.com/los-angeles-homele...ness-during-coronavirus-covid-19-and/6305357/


If our country was so economically sound then why is the Fed printing tens of trillions of dollars to buy junk bonds? Why are NBA teams like the Lakers and Universities like Harvard applying for PPP- Loans?

Does anybody have a list of the construction companies or developers that have filed for PPP Loans on developments?

Very sad to see the American people struggle so badly.
 
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stellarfun

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The first two COVID vaccines that will be approved in the United States are based on a heretofore unproven technology based on messenger RNA. The success of those two vaccines is likely to lead to a veritable explosion of pharmaceutical research that will use messenger RNA to treat other illnesses and medical conditions.
.

It is very likely that Boston-Cambridge will become a world center for this research. The messenger RNA COVID vaccines are being produced in Andover and Norwood.
I will update my post with two developments announced on Monday that will transform health care.

The first is Moderna's application for emergency use authorization of its messenger RNA COVID vaccine. This follows by a week Pfizer's application for its messenger RNA vaccine.
https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/30/moderna-covid-19-vaccine-full-results/
https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/11/30/moderna-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine-mrna

The second announcement is absolutely mind-blowing. Google's Deep Mind lab in London has solved the problem of how to fold proteins.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03348-4

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/game-has-changed-ai-triumphs-solving-protein-structures

^^^ I've linked to sites that aren't behind a paywall.

And where is a leading center for AI in the United States, and the world? Boston/Cambridge.
 

Arlington

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Between Amazon & everyone else's response (grocers, Walmart) Covid has taught us that chore-shopping is dead.

Shopping as leisure (browsing Newbury St or anyplace lucky enough to have an Apple Store) will still be a thing.

Also the Apple Store (and similar) as service centers of things worth fixing (bikes) have a Future.

Implications:
Most purveyors of mid range durable-but-nonrepairable goods are dead.

Parking lots sized for Black Friday take up twice as much acreage as they will ever need again. They should be made places to build by-right housing
 

HarvardP

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It's hard to see why these stores with strong online presences would bother to continue paying high rents in areas with declining foot traffic and changing tastes. This can't all be pinned on the likes of Amazon, people just don't wander and browse the way they used to.
 
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xec

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It's hard to see why these stores with strong online presences would bother to continue paying high rents in areas with declining foot traffic and changing tastes. This can't all be pinned on the likes of Amazon, people just don't wander and browse the way they used to.
Probably because they don't need to wander and browse anymore now that they can just order things from Amazon. ;)
 

Bananarama

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Probably because they don't need to wander and browse anymore now that they can just order things from Amazon. ;)
Exactly. Not everyone wants to buy the specific products off Amazon, but they certainly changed the way people approach shopping in general. Convenience is king now.
 

HarvardP

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Probably because they don't need to wander and browse anymore now that they can just order things from Amazon. ;)
They're a disruptive force for sure, but it's too easy to just sniff and let Amazon be the boogeyman. I get that this board is heavily biased towards physical retail, as it enhances and engages the streetscape, but wishes - and underperforming businesses gouged by prime new build rates - don't pay the bills.
 

curcuas

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One type of retail that was thriving pre-pandemic was showroom stores in downtowns for companies that do most of their business online. This is nothing new for furniture, which always had a strong remote ordering component, but there's a reason we now have physical Allbirds and Warby Parker stores.
 

JumboBuc

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One type of retail that was thriving pre-pandemic was showroom stores in downtowns for companies that do most of their business online. This is nothing new for furniture, which always had a strong remote ordering component, but there's a reason we now have physical Allbirds and Warby Parker stores.
Yeah, showrooms will forever be a thing, especially for more upscale / premium goods. Plenty of more "convenience" goods can just be bought blind on Amazon or whatever online platform, but for other goods there is absolutely value in seeing / feeling / trying on the product before buying. In addition to Allbirds and Warby Parker (multiple locations), other "e-commerce first" retailers with showrooms in Boston that I can think of off the top of my head include Tesla, Peloton, Everlane, Away, Bonobos, and Indochino (mulitple locations).

Also, the types of goods that are traditionally sold in fancy shops in high-rent districts are exactly the type of goods that call for "showrooming" the most. Generally, the type of person who is now perfectly happy buying homeware or furniture online isn't the type of person who was shopping for that stuff along Newbury St or in the Back Bay previously.
 

bigpicture7

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Yeah, showrooms will forever be a thing, especially for more upscale / premium goods. Plenty of more "convenience" goods can just be bought blind on Amazon or whatever online platform, but for other goods there is absolutely value in seeing / feeling / trying on the product before buying. In addition to Allbirds and Warby Parker (multiple locations), other "e-commerce first" retailers with showrooms in Boston that I can think of off the top of my head include Tesla, Peloton, Everlane, Away, Bonobos, and Indochino (mulitple locations).

Also, the types of goods that are traditionally sold in fancy shops in high-rent districts are exactly the type of goods that call for "showrooming" the most. Generally, the type of person who is now perfectly happy buying homeware or furniture online isn't the type of person who was shopping for that stuff along Newbury St or in the Back Bay previously.
I definitely agree with this value proposition of showrooming and how it holds promise for future urban retail utilization. Let me add: a key discriminator is when showroom employees are super knowledgable about the products and can add considerable value to a prospective customer compared to what can be gleaned by the customer online. Some companies get this and totally nail the showroom/online coupling (and others don't).
 

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