New York City businesses are barely hanging on

Nearly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York, parts of the Big Apple look more like ghost towns, lined with shuttered storefrontsempty office buildings and businesses teetering on the edge of closure.

Now industry leaders and struggling store owners are calling on the city and state to turn things around — before it’s too late.

“I’m not saying there will be an exodus in the city or the city is going to die” without help, said Gino Gigante, owner of the Lower East Side’s Waypoint Cafe — where sales tanked from $500,000 in 2019 to just $80,000 last year.

“But you’re going to see a lot of unhappy people and a lot of empty storefronts.”

As of this month, more than 47 percent of small businesses citywide remain closed, while revenue for those that are open has dropped nearly 60 percent, according to TrackTheRecovery.org, a Harvard University-run database tracing the virus’ economic impact.

The Big Apple saw almost one in seven nationally recognized chain-store branches close their doors as the pandemic sent consumers scurrying for cover.

The Big Apple saw almost one in seven nationally recognized chain-store branches close their doors as the pandemic sent consumers scurrying for cover.

In Lower Manhattan, commercial office leasing dropped nearly 70 percent in 2020, while a staggering 12 percent of businesses — ranging from hotels to department stores to restaurants — closed for good, data from the Downtown Alliance shows.

“There are hours and hours where no one comes in the store at this point,” Alyssa Morrow, chief operating officer of SoHo clothing store The Vintage Twin, told The Post. “We’re down to bare bones.”

Restaurants, bars and cafes have been among the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We started out with 22 or 23 employees. Now we have about 10,” said Andrew Chase, owner of Cafe Katja on Orchard Street in Lower Manhattan.

In a stark reminder of the dual dangers of the pandemic, those losses include a worker who succumbed to the virus at just 36 years old, Chase said.

“It was just so tragic,” he said. “So all I care about is that everybody else is healthy.”

Nevertheless, plummeting profits have sowed an uncertain future for Chase and his cafe, despite a GoFundMe cash drive, a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and an understanding landlord taking their lease quarterly.

Vacancy rates in residential, office and retail spaces have continued to skyrocket — with as much as 21 percent of buildings in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn empty, according to data from Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis, the world’s largest real estate and investment firm.

“New York City had a vacancy storefront crisis before the pandemic and it’s been exacerbated to levels unimaginable,” Andrew Rigie, the Director of the Hospitality Association, told The Post.

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