Lifelong New Yorker who fled city doubts it will ever recover from COVID shutdowns, riots, rising crime

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A lifelong New Yorker who has relocated to Miami wrote an alarming blog post in which he claims the city is collapsing after being shut down for months due to COVID-19, followed by riots and escalating crime.

The post by James Altrucher, co-owner of a comedy club in the Big Apple who is also an author and angel investor, said he fled the city with his family in June following a week of destructive looting and violence that included an attempt by thugs to break into his apartment building.

Convinced that the city won’t “bounce back” as others have predicted, Altrucher wrote that, unlike previous crises including the 9/11 attacks and the crime waves of the 1970s, nothing is uniting residents of the city because many are working remotely.

“Even in the 1970s, and through the ’80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, even when it was the crime capital of the U.S. or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning, it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity),” Altrucher wrote.

“It was culturally on top of its game — home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing. And it was probably the food capital of the U.S.,” he continued.

“NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never,” the investor and chess master wrote. “In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were becoming paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.”

Since the coronavirus lockdowns implemented by Mayor Bill De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo began in March, followed by post-George Floyd rioting and looting and a dramatic spike in shootings, more than hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have fled the city, many vowing never to return.

The resident bailouts, especially by some of the city’s wealthiest patrons, are so numerous that earlier this month Cuomo — facing a massive budget shortfall in his state, thanks to the extended lockdown — begged people to return.

In his blog post, Altrucher noted that one of the city’s historic callings was its diverse “subculture” and entertainment venues.

“I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. I could start any type of business. I could meet people. I had family, friends, opportunities. No matter what happened to me, NYC was a net I could fall back on and bounce back up,” he wrote. “Now it’s completely dead.”

Entertainment venues such as concert halls, theaters, and Altrucher’s comedy club, Standup NY, remain shuttered as ‘non-essential’ for the foreseeable future.

He went on to note that a Facebook group launched a few weeks ago for people looking to move out of the city and get advice from others swelled to more than 10,000 members in short order.

“Every day I see more and more posts, ‘I’ve been in NYC forever but I guess this time I have to say goodbye,’” he wrote. “Every single day I see those posts. I’ve been screenshotting them for my scrapbook.”

In a somber segment for Fox News’ “The Five” in early June, co-host Greg Gutfeld ripped the mainstream media for focusing on President Donald Trump’s verbiage in describing those who were doing the looting while committing other criminal acts instead of focusing on what was happening in the country’s largest city.

“Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, etc.,” Altrucher continued, noting that office buildings like the historic Time-Life tower are virtually empty and downtown Manhattan is a “ghost town.”

“Now a third wave of people is leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30–50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals are soaring in the second- and third-tier cities,” the comic club owner, who now resides in South Florida, added.

He also noted that because of faster Internet and the fact that businesses are adapting to remote operations following the COVID-19 epidemic, it’s not likely that the city’s towering office buildings will fill up anytime soon — or ever again.

“Everyone has choices now. You can live in the music capital of Nashville, you can live in the “next Silicon Valley” of Austin. You can live in your hometown in the middle of wherever. And you can be just as productive, make the same salary, have higher quality of life with a cheaper cost to live,” he said.


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