How Will Hudson Yards Survive the Pandemic? So asked a recent New York Times headline. It will survive by being great. But don’t count on any favors from the babbling intelligentsia that hates everything about it, from the platform it stands on to the air its mighty skyscrapers breathe.

Sniping at Hudson Yards might have been harmless fun a year ago, when the complex was slammed for everything including the public toilets. But the now-lonely, $28 billion complex atop a rail yard needs all the love we can give it.

To the property’s haters, the recent closing of the Thomas Keller TAK Room restaurant spelled delicious doom. To me, it just meant losing my favorite $25 cheeseburger. But those who’d like to see the whole of Hudson Yards slide into the Hudson River now think they smell blood in the water.

The development will make it through the nightmare, but it can use some cheering up. The city can’t afford a failed Hudson Yards any more than it can a permanently dark Times Square. It’s the crown jewel and capital complex of the new far West Side, which includes the Manhattan West project to its east, the soon-to-open Moynihan train station in the Farley Post Office building, the rising Spiral office tower across the street and several new hotels all around.

The project took a beating from the media and urban reactionaries long before it opened in March 2019. The New York Times attacked it over $6 billion in mostly nonexistent “subsidies.” The tall towers “broke the heart” of Architect magazine’s critic. It’s a zillionaires’ “private space masquerading as a public one,” stated The New Yorker, which added that New Yorkers would never go there.

The loss of Thomas Keller's TAK Room restaurant) and the loss of Cuozzo's favorite $25 cheeseburger) spelled doom of the Hudson Yards to some.
The loss of Thomas Keller’s TAK Room restaurant — and the loss of Steve Cuozzo’s favorite $25 cheeseburger — spelled doom to some.Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Developer Stephen M. Ross was Public Enemy No. 1 for once holding a fundraiser for President Trump. The Vessel was an “eyesore” and a “monstrosity” to one critic. The restaurants were said by Eater.com to “bode poorly for the future of eating out in New York.”

In fact, Hudson Yards gave homes to scores of great companies needing more elbow room than they could find in Midtown or downtown; offered new opportunities to great chefs; and assembled a singularly diverse array of shopping options under one roof, from H&M to Cartier. And it drew tourists who could scale the Vessel before strolling the High Line Park to which it’s seamlessly connected.

COVID knocked the wind out of Hudson Yards as it did out of Times Square, the World Trade Center and the restaurant and hotel businesses. Suffering is everywhere, but the Yards seem uniquely cursed.

The virus snuffed out the planned March unveiling of the 1,000-feet-high Edge observation deck and Peak restaurant the day before they were supposed to open.

Neiman Marcus, flagship of the 1-million-square-foot, seven-level shopping and dining mall, went belly up this summer, leaving developer Related Companies with a big fat hole to fill. Then the TAK Room followed it down the tubes. The one-two collapse of the mall’s most glamorous store and restaurant cast a real pall.

Hudson Yards is a sad sight right now. The mall is closed by government order. So are the Equinox Hotel, performing-arts venue The Shed, and The Vessel. Few visitors come to the Yards’ public plaza even on Instagram-perfect days.

Adweek magazine called Neiman’s shutdown a “failure for the entire development” and said that whenever it fully reopens, it will be without its “star attraction.”

But the badly timed, little-trafficked luxury emporium, which lasted a mere 16 months of its 50-year lease, stank from the start. I knew it was DOA when my friend bought herself a fabulous fur coat originally priced at $22,000 for $9,500 — not during the ongoing fire sale, but just weeks after the mostly empty emporium opened. (It’s still open until Sept. 12 via a discreet Tenth Avenue entrance. Guys, if you want an $8,495 Kiton silk-and-cashmere jacket for a mere $3,398, now’s your chance).

Neiman Marcus, flagship of the 1-million-square-foot, seven-level shopping and dining mall, went belly up this summer.
Neiman Marcus, flagship of the 1-million-square-foot, seven-level shopping and dining mall, went belly up this summer.ZUMAPRESS.com

And, what “star attraction?” Hudson Yards is mainly an office and apartment complex. Hudson Yards’ real stars are the office towers which are more than 90 percent leased or user-owned. Occupants are a thriving cross-section of metropolitan commerce — among them Time Warner, Tapestry (Coach), KKR, L’Oréal, Wells Fargo and four major law firms.

Related says it’s collecting 100 percent of the office rent and nobody’s known to have asked to be let out of their leases. No wonder Related has its eye on replacing Neiman Marcus not with another store, but with more offices.

It will take time for Hudson Yards to recover — but recover it will. It needs its growing legions of office workers to come back soon. (One building, 50 Hudson Yards, isn’t even finished but will soon house financial giant BlackRock and Facebook.) Their swelling numbers will put life back in the stores and restaurants. Tourists will eventually return, too.

One day, nobody will remember Neiman Marcus or the TAK Room — but rather, how Hudson Yards, like the rest of New York City, found its way back into the light.

Read More