New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned Tuesday, Aug. 10, following an investigation that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women. In two weeks, he will be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will serve as the state's first female governor.
Although Cuomo did have high approval ratings earlier in the pandemic, they didn't always come from the real estate community. In particular, the governor stopped short of canceling rent but kept extending the ban on evictions, which did not make him a favorite among landlords.
John Walkup, co-founder of real estate analytics company UrbanDigs, said, "Although it is still too soon to tell, the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo may prove to be a turning point for New York City real estate. After a decade in power, Cuomo's legacy, in terms of real estate, is mixed."
A tarnished legacy
Indeed, as many critics have pointed out, the soon-to-be-former governor was known to be both an ally or an enemy of the real estate industry, depending on his own agenda.
Walkup notes that while Cuomo's passage of the property tax cap in 2019 was a "Herculean effort that earned him plaudits," it was followed by two blunders. The first was his refusal to renew the 421a tax abatement plan, which resulted in diminished developer interest in New York. The second was Cuomo's passage of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act in 2019, which favored tenants over multifamily landlords and effectively stalled sales.
Some critics of the governor would also point to him as the cause of Andy Byford's resignation in 2020 as president of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA). Having built a stellar reputation by improving the transit systems of Toronto and London, Byford was seen as somewhat of a savior for the Big Apple's mess of a subway system.
After taking the helm in 2018, Byford made changes that improved the trains' on-time performance by more than 22%. Frequent clashes between the two men led to Byford's departure, though, and the subway system and its riders continue to suffer.
Says Walkup, "As public transportation is the beating heart of New York City, an efficient and fast network is vital, but that is not the case currently."
What's next for New York?
Hochul is set to take the reins for the rest of Cuomo's term in office. True to form for many in the lieutenant position, she has been mainly behind the scenes, and more importantly, she has been far away from the scandal that led to Cuomo's demise. She also has not always seen eye to eye with Cuomo and is touted as being the opposite in temperament to him, who some have called a bully.
Hochul will inherit a host of headaches when she assumes office, including the beleaguered rent relief program. She will also be planning a reelection campaign soon thereafter. To get funding, Hochul will likely turn to big donors, including those from the real estate world who had previously supported Cuomo and are hoping for better luck with their investments this time around.
The Millionacres bottom line
The political world has the power to sway many industries, including real estate. Legislation continues to play a major role in both the residential and commercial sector, particularly in a state that is home to the country's most populous city.
"The blank canvas offered to the next resident of the New York State Executive Mansion is most likely bullish for New York City real estate, simply because the room for improvement is so high," Walkup says.