I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how to repurpose midtown Manhattan office space. The exodus has begun. After a considerable percentage of the New York City businesses relocate, millions upon millions of square feet of empty office space pose a liability to the city neighborhoods. Vacant buildings fall into disrepair, are vandalized, become home for squatters, drugs, gangs, and drag the rest of the nearby streets down. Unfortunately, landlords, forced to abandon buildings rather than operate them in a reduced capacity, cannot afford the loss.
With a real estate market that has been so hot for so many years, astronomical and unaffordable $45-90 per square foot rentals were the norm. There’s no way to replace those tenants without reducing the rent. The only viable alternative with some hope of financial success is growing marijuana. Atypical 10,000 square foot space, close to a quarter-acre in size, could be repurposed to produce 5500 pounds of potatoes, which would bring over $4100 at today’s market prices. That’s not going to be nearly enough to replace the $45,000 a month rent that space once brought in. But a comparable 10,000 square feet of marijuana could quickly bring in $250,000 depending upon the strain and the grower’s skill.