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Empty Times Square Building Generates $23 Million a Year From Digital Ads

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the getting-your-money's-worth dept.

Advertising 227

dryriver writes "Advertising things at the right place is proving to be a cash cow, as electronic ads earn about $23mn each year for an empty building at One Times Square – the iconic tourist destination in the New York City. A 25-story Manhattan office building that has long been empty keeps on bringing in millions to its owner as a billboard. Michael Phillips, CEO of Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties, bought One Times Square through a fund in 1997 for $117 million, as the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 100mn pedestrians pass through the square each year, which is 90% more than 16 years ago, says the Times Square Alliance, a non-profit business improvement organization. And this is what makes a price tag for having a company's name placed on the building the highest in the world, even above such crowded tourist destinations as Piccadilly Circus in London. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. pays $3.6mn a year for a Dunkin' Donuts digital sign on the One Times Square building, with Anheuser-Busch InBev paying another $3.4mn a year for its advertisement. Sony and News America pay $4mn a year for a shared sign."

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Profit (4, Insightful)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407807)

If he's making a profit anyway, why not rent or give the space to local community groups / organisations?

Re:Profit (1, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407825)

Most likely due to tax exceptions for empty buildings.

Re:Profit (4, Interesting)

queequeg1 (180099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408165)

What exceptions are you referring to? I can see why a landlord might not want to rent if the marginal operating costs (janitors, maintenance, tenant improvements, security, etc.) exceed the rents. But I'm not sure what tax benefits are realized by letting the building sit vacant if there are tenants who will pay rents that exceed marginal operating expenses. I can't imagine that there are any property tax benefits, and income tax is applied only on actual income. The landlord can claim depreciation on its returns regardless of occupancy. I'm genuinely curious. Does NY have some sort tax on gross revenues (like Washington's business and occupation tax)?

Re:Profit (2, Insightful)

rgbrenner (317308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408379)

sssshhhhhhhhh.. this is slashdot where citation-less posts with made up reasoning get +5.

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408393)

This is New York City where if you rent or lease space, you are automatically the bad guy. Why rent or lease and incur the liability?

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408779)

What exceptions are you referring to? I can see why a landlord might not want to rent if the marginal operating costs (janitors, maintenance, tenant improvements, security, etc.) exceed the rents. But I'm not sure what tax benefits are realized by letting the building sit vacant if there are tenants who will pay rents that exceed marginal operating expenses. I can't imagine that there are any property tax benefits, and income tax is applied only on actual income. The landlord can claim depreciation on its returns regardless of occupancy. I'm genuinely curious. Does NY have some sort tax on gross revenues (like Washington's business and occupation tax)?

I don't know the situation in New York but it could be exactly as the GP said. Some cities provide property tax breaks on commercial properties that are unoccupied. Even giving away the space to a local community group could mean a big tax bill increase.

Re:Profit (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409031)

Homeowner property tax is on value. Some places do commercial property tax on revenue or profit (to give the 1% a desperately needed tax break). Perhaps the rules are written somewhere that an external billboard is not included in the P&L for the property, and so sitting empty generates minimum property tax, though making 10% profit and 90% tax on that would still give a bigger net income than $0 tax on $0 income. So there's very little reason someone would want it empty for tax reasons alone (unless there are some tax swaps that essentially generate income from it being empty). I've seen people spend 10x the cost to renovate a historical building than it would have cost to demolish it and rebuild the identical item at that place. So perhaps it's an issue of renovations being expensive.

Re:Profit (-1, Flamebait)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407839)

Because presumably if the charity didn't pay electricity or anything, his profit would be slightly lower. We can't have that now, can we?

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407841)

because that would actually cost money and make it hard to rent if folks willing to pay came along.

Re:Profit (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407843)

Strip clubs, peep shows. Return Times Square to the greatness that it once was.

Re:Profit (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408499)

I don't know why you were modded "funny". You're spot on. Times Square and Vegas were fantastic before they were nerfed and Disneyfied for boomers and their stupid kids.

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407865)

Then he'd be accused of being a front for Communist terrorism.

Re:Profit (1)

Zerth (26112) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407869)

Limited property interests(such as 'use of a building') aren't tax deductible.

Re:Profit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407889)

People making 23 million a year for doing nothing at all do not share.

And that's one of many reasons why we deserve the world we have.

Re:Profit (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407925)

Paying taxes, maintaining the building, managing building permits, and maintaining the signage... doesn't sound like 'nothing at all' to me.

Nor does it look like 'nothing at all'; doing no work would very quickly lead to a hazardous dilapidated shell.

Ever consider he may not have tenants because no one would want to have 1,000,000 watts of light pouring into their office each and every day?

Re:Profit (2)

slippyblade (962288) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407975)

And I guarantee he, personally, does none of that.

Re:Profit (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408001)

Just like the President and Congress do not, personally, do most of the things they're credited with. The millions of blue collar workers are the ones who end up doing it. However, there's something to be said for the guy(s) on top who put it all into motion and maintain it at the highest levels.

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408077)

But the meme in the U.S. right now is that all the little guys don't do anything and basically don't even deserve enough money to live.

I don't think there has been a time in U.S. history where people in the U.S. have believed the guy in the top shouldn't be paid the best, but right now as a country we seem to be believing the grunts aren't responsible for the success of these groups at all. At least that is what the CEOs are, as a class, believing. As a result many are saying that these people don't even believe a decent wage or deserve to share in the success of the companies they work for.

And there are plenty of people... people that hang on every word of the CEOs like they're super human, that are willing to believe it. Slashdot seems to get more of the CEO worshipers every day and are happy with the idea that corporations should be able to screw over anyone they choose as long as there is a "benefit to the shareholders."

And this article highlights another one... it's fine for a building to sit empty as long as some corporate entity is making money. The US has about 3 times the number of houses available then there are homeless people and many of those houses were obtained by the banks by nefarious means... but since a corporation benefits no one does anything.

We've got problems with morals in the U.S... but not the moral problems we constantly hear about.

Re:Profit (5, Insightful)

otterpop81 (784896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408247)

But the meme in the U.S. right now is that all the little guys don't do anything and basically don't even deserve enough money to live.

_The_ meme. Interesting take on a country that just re-elected the most income-distributing president of all time. We know he didn't win on his economic record. He won on the same kind of class warfare talk that you're giving right now.

right now as a country we seem to be believing the grunts aren't responsible for the success of these groups at all. At least that is what the CEOs are, as a class, believing. As a result many are saying that these people don't even believe a decent wage or deserve to share in the success of the companies they work for.

How much is a "decent wage?" I hear people all the time talk about a "living wage" on here, but nobody puts a dollar figure on it. Give me something concrete. What should the high-school drop-out ditch digger (or whatever) who has learned no marketable skills make? What kinds of things should someone making a "living" wage be able to buy? What things are over the line? For example, how new a car, what kinds of food, cell phones, cable TV, how big of house or apartment? Should this "living wage" increase because people live in a certain area, or should we pay them more because they have a bunch of kids? I want to know what a "living wage" really means.

Also, how much more should a person with a degree make than this base "living wage." I mean a real degree which enables someone to produce something of value. I'm talking about engineering, or science, or something medical (and there are plenty of others), not philosophy or communications or something that qualifies you to be a barista.

And there are plenty of people... people that hang on every word of the CEOs like they're super human, that are willing to believe it. Slashdot seems to get more of the CEO worshipers every day and are happy with the idea that corporations should be able to screw over anyone they choose as long as there is a "benefit to the shareholders."

Like the people here who worship Steve Jobs? I don't get CEO worship either, but I bet if you polled nationally, you'd find that most people _don't_ worship large corporation CEOs either. That said, I don't know what these people (most of them) do that commands the kind of money they make. No doubt many of them are _way_ overpaid, but I also bet you and I both have a lot to learn about what makes a large corporation tick.

And this article highlights another one... it's fine for a building to sit empty as long as some corporate entity is making money.

Who should be the one making it not-fine? Maybe you don't like it, but are you suggesting that there should be law that if you own a building that you should have to bring it up to modern code and rent out space? Do you have any idea what the condition of that particular building is? (I don't). Should there then be law about how much he should rent the space out for? What's your master plan for this? Don't just spout off about how evil it is that he makes a profit. Tell us what he should do, and tell us what you think the role of government is in this situation, especially with respect to private property rights.

The US has about 3 times the number of houses available then there are homeless people and many of those houses were obtained by the banks by nefarious means... but since a corporation benefits no one does anything.

Think so? I'm going to call for citation on that one. Again, what's your end-game proposal here? Should the government force the banks to let homeless people live in bank-owned houses? What's the government's role in this?

I can tell you care deeply about the homeless. How many have you taken into your home to live with you? Should the government force you to take in homeless? So I guess it's fine for a room in your home to sit empty (or "spare") while there are people that live on the street, as long as you have a place to put your feet up and watch TV.

We've got problems with morals in the U.S... but not the moral problems we constantly hear about.

Please describe your moral code with respect to who should be giving what to whom in what situations, and who should be allowed to be on the receiving end.

Re:Profit (4, Interesting)

Son of Byrne (1458629) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408539)

Don't know why you've been modded a troll, but I think that your comment cuts to the quick of the aforementioned hollow argument.

In real estate, there is a concept known as highest and best use of property. That concept works exactly the way that it sounds and is one of the tools that an appraiser uses when trying to determine the value of a property. In this case, the building may serve its highest and best use as a billboard and not as office space/hotel/whatever. Who cares that the building sits empty? It most likely is not heated, not plumbed, and may not even have any interior walls/flooring/etc.

Further, I don't think that asking someone to justify their ridiculous statements (without even using the term "ridiculous statements") qualifies as trolling. If it did, then count Socrates as one of the first trolls.

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408547)

He is the _least_ income distributing president of all time. Taxes were 10% higher under Reagan of all people.

Re:Profit (4, Interesting)

pyro_peter_911 (447333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408567)

I think you're unfairly moderated as Troll here, so I'll reply and have you bumped up to insightful in just a few moments... :)

How much is a "decent wage?" I hear people all the time talk about a "living wage" on here, but nobody puts a dollar figure on it. Give me something concrete. What should the high-school drop-out ditch digger (or whatever) who has learned no marketable skills make? What kinds of things should someone making a "living" wage be able to buy? What things are over the line? For example, how new a car, what kinds of food, cell phones, cable TV, how big of house or apartment? Should this "living wage" increase because people live in a certain area, or should we pay them more because they have a bunch of kids? I want to know what a "living wage" really means.
Also, how much more should a person with a degree make than this base "living wage." I mean a real degree which enables someone to produce something of value. I'm talking about engineering, or science, or something medical (and there are plenty of others), not philosophy or communications or something that qualifies you to be a barista.

Here's how I've always attempted to communicate this idea that you're sharing.
When you impose a minimum wage there are, almost by definition, jobs that are no longer worth hiring someone to do.
Is it worth $8/hr for a gym to hire a kid to wipe sweat off the equipment in the afternoons? Probably not. Wipe your own sweat.
Is it worth $8/hr for the mechanic to figure out why your BMW's heated cupholder isn't working? Probably so. The shop is going to bill $150/hr for the repair, so the mechanic has plenty of room between $8/hr and $150/hr to carve out a reasonable salary, while the owner still gets paid too.

Now, to run the "decent wage" and minimum wage ideas to their absurd extreme. If a $0 minimum wage is bad, and a $10 minimum wage is little better, why not make the minimum wage $10,000/hr! We'll All Be Rich! I'll have two new cars by lunchtime! Obviously, "We'll all be rich!" is the wrong answer. We'll all be criminals and working for whatever we're worth is the correct answer. If you insist on being law abiding, you'll be unemployed. No one on /. is worth $10K/hr (I'm sorry if this is a shock to some). Obviously, $10K/hr minimum is extreme, but the effects of raising the minimum wage to a "living wage" of $20/hr would be similar. Now everyone is getting paid at least $40K/year for their full time jobs. Great! But your Papa John's pizza is going to go up by a bit more than $0.15 to make it worth selling crappy pizzas.

You've just cut the bottom four rungs off of the economic ladder. It is no longer possible to go from sweeping the floors at the auto shop, to doing oil changes, to changing brakes, to being a highly skilled mechanic working on high end cars. The only job in that chain that is worth hiring an employee for is the last one. Everyone below that point gets the shaft and becomes a criminal.

The simple fact is that minimum wage laws hurt the very ones they are supposed to be helping, either by eliminating their jobs or by forcing them into "under the table" working arrangements where they can be paid what they are worth.

Peter

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408771)

The flaw in your logic is that most of the jobs created at the sub-minimum wage level (in the absence of such a wage) wouldn't go to a 13-year-old making money to buy candy. They would go to people working five jobs trying to scrape by a living. Instead, with a minimum wage, those people scrape by a living while working only three jobs, thereby providing them a small amount of time at rest.

Also, minimum wage establishes a base line for education. As you point out, certain jobs are no longer worth hiring someone to do them. Those jobs by their wage point had little to no education requirement. Okay, so there are no longer jobs for people who chose to drop out of school in ninth grade and refuse to learn a trade. You know what? That's a fair trade to me. If those people have a development disability that prevents them for learning a skill, then we have a social safety net to help them.

Finally the $10,000/hr statement is just absurd right now, because that price point would eliminate all jobs except those requiring skill as a Fortune 500 CEO. Now, if we were a country with 501 citizens and 500 CEO jobs to fill? Then sure, it would be perfectly viable.

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408987)

If those people have a development disability that prevents them for learning a skill, then we have a social safety net to help them.

I know people that are perfectly heathy and capable on many jobs but have not had one for decades. They live off of government handouts and under the table side jobs. There are MANY people that do this their entire lives. The federal government allows this and in my opinion, the Obama administration seems to encourage it or at least considers it perfectly acceptable.

My uncle was collecting unemployment for the last two years. Him and his wife are empty nesters with no debt. While collecting that money, they added an addition to their house, bought another new car, and went to Europe for vacation.

People that worked hard their entire life and were responsible with their money and people that never worked a day in their life and are slugs are taking advantage of handouts and making a good living doing it.

Re:Profit (0)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408997)

Used to be if you wanted to make more money you worked harder and/or longer. Then some politician came up with a "minimum" wage law. No one noticed it was really a tax increase. They still don't.

Did it help the poor? Hell no. It hurt. If it wasn't for minimum wage you'd still be paying about a nickel for a loaf of bread.

Minimum wage is nothing more than a hidden tax increase. One that makes the politicians look good.

Look, you get a raise. Your employer has to raise his prices. Within a month you're back to where you were since every employer everywhere has to raise prices.

But wait! There's more! You're actually worse off. The wage increase means you get more money, but it also means you pay more taxes. And if it puts you over the edge to that higher tax bracket... you're behind. Your cost of living goes up and taxes go up but you never notice it. But you're smiling like a jackass eating briars and the politicians are just smiling since they now have enough money to vote themselves another raise.

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409035)

First the estimates for a living wage [wikipedia.org] in the US are around $11/hr-$14/hr. I'm not saying it's viable to raise the minimum wage that high, but no one is talking about a $20/hr minimum wage.

You are right that there is a point at which the minimum wage can be too high, but, somewhat counter-intuitively, it can actually be too low (people who earn little money spend little money), although there is plenty of disagreement among economists on the precise right way to handle a minimum wage. Wikipedia is a good starting place for discussions pro/con minimum wage [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408623)

You are my hero. At least for today. Your response completely bottles the proper attitude and response to this type of thinking. Not anger or opposing talking points, but rational dialog ready to discuss pros and cons. What a concept.

Re:Profit (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408711)

here's your citation and stfu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_To_Serfdom [wikipedia.org]

        There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408281)

He owns it. He presumably is paying his property taxes on it. Who are you, or who is anyone for that matter, to say what he should do with it? Unless of course you don't believe in private property ownership.

Re:Profit (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408347)

Who are you, or who is anyone for that matter, to say what he should do with it?

Curious and/or surprised folk?

Re:Profit (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408519)

UN Human Rights article 17 says that "No one can arbitrarily be deprived of his ownership.", which implies there are legitimate reasons to deprive someone of its ownership. 1789 french's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen goes further, noting the public necessity as the reason:

Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one can be deprived of it, unless demanded by public necessity, legally constituted, explicitly demands it, and under the condition of a just and prior indemnity.

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408537)

Insightful?? News flash: The government tells you what you can do with your property all the fucking time. Check out zoning laws, public safety laws, and thousands of bylaws just to start with.

Re:Profit (0)

Garth Smith (1720052) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408631)

Humans have generally believed since the Magna Carta that there should be some limits on power. As far back as Bible times when people taxed/tithed their government/religion that there should be some transfer of wealth from the wealthy to the poor. Without such transfers of wealth, the ultimate conclusion will always be fiefdoms where a few Lords use their power and wealth to acquire more power and wealth.

Believing in private property doesn't mean that society gets zero say in how you use that property. Where is your empathy?

Re:Profit (1)

Garth Smith (1720052) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408641)

Please mod parent, aka me, down. After rereading grandparent, I realize he already mentioned property taxes have been paid and grandparent does not seem to take any issue with taxes.

Ugh, awful kneejerk nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408725)

What you're saying is, of course, "don't question the way things are, don't wonder if there can be a different or fairer-seeming world".

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408873)

I'm not sure there is a valid reason to believe in private property ownership, actually, if you mean "believe" as in acknowledging that something objectively exists.

Out of curiosity, what would you say would have been the first person with legitimate "title" to the property upon which this building exists, and by what criteria did it become "his"?

Re:Profit (4, Funny)

johnny cashed (590023) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408053)

Ever consider he may not have tenants because no one would want to have 1,000,000 watts of light pouring into their office each and every day?

Cannabis grow room?

Re:Profit (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408181)

Ever consider he may not have tenants because no one would want to have 1,000,000 watts of light pouring into their office each and every day?

The signs point outward, do they not?

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408317)

And it's how hot inside?

Re:Profit (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408325)

It appears there isn't any windows in this building at all, the ground floor appears to have a Walgreens, if it is the building I think it is.

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408311)

Ever consider he may not have tenants because no one would want to have 1,000,000 watts of light pouring into their office each and every day?

If he wants to rent the space, he'll find takers without much trouble. Also, as someone whose workspace is in Times Square facing said billboards, it's much better to be in the building with the ads on it than the building that faces the ads.

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408643)

Did you miss the part about buying it for $117 million? Those loan payments eat into that cash flow quite a bit I'm sure.

Sorry but commercial real estate is valued based on how much you can anticipate to make off of it. The smarter/more creative the owner is at making money, the more he gets paid. Go read Think and Grow Rich (it is deliberately not titled Work Hard and Grow Rich). Thinking is one of the hardest activities there is; that I why so few people engage in it.

Re:Profit (2)

Victor_0x53h (1164907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407901)

Liability? I thought the same thing. Maybe it's just what super-rich people do: buy stuff. Like a yacht used 10 days out of the year. I can just imagine how regal it would be to say to my friends "Lets spend New Years at my place in Times Square, guys!" It just turns out we can't watch the ball drop because it's mounted directly above us - on my roof.

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

beamdriver (554241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407917)

The building would need extensive renovation for it to be suitable for use.

Chief among these would be the addition of central air conditioning, but I would assume that a building that old would also need a good deal of electrical and structural work, asbestos removal, etc.

At this time, the ads bring in more revenue than rent would, so there's no reason to invest the money.

Re:Profit (-1, Flamebait)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407947)

he is earning $20 million a year. and paid 117 million for it in 1997.

The building is not only paid for in full but he could literally spend $50 million redoing the interior(the next ~two years of income) and then rent out the space for another 5-10 million a year.

It is what is wrong with the Republican Piss Down Theory. This guy is literally sitting on his money.It isn't really doing him as good as it should. If he was actually investing in that property I could see it but he isn't.

In NYC that location? he could be doing 50-100% more income on that property.

Re:Profit (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407985)

Are you sure he is not investing his profits in other properties?

What if doing major work would have to shut down the billboard for a long time?

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408021)

Are you sure he isn't Bruce Wayne?

Re:Profit (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408185)

Sitting on his money? You know this How?
Nothing in the story indicates what he is spending his personal money on. For all you know he funds orphanages in East Timor.

But its easy to make accusations on the internet isn't it?

Re:Profit (3, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408329)

I understood that to mean he's pissing away his corporation's money. As in, letting a building in one of the highest rent markets in the country lay unused. There's no way that building makes more money empty than it does with tenants.

Re:Profit (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408403)

I understood that to mean he's pissing away his corporation's money. As in, letting a building in one of the highest rent markets in the country lay unused. There's no way that building makes more money empty than it does with tenants.

I;m not sure he would make much renting that place. It would probably inhibit his advertising campaign. Its not that big such that he would have many tenants anyway.

Its a very little ( by NYC standards) building, with no parking.

Here's a link to the 3D view on Google Maps [google.com] . (Fairly resource intensive view).

Here's a street view [google.com] , its the building behind the tiny police department office.

This Google Satellite image [google.com] shows its about 6 car lengths long, wedge shaped building. You simply aren't going to get much rent for that building, with no parking, no view.

Re:Profit (3, Interesting)

mooingyak (720677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408507)

When I'm at work, I look out the window at that building. I'm familiar with it's dimensions and location.

You'd rent it as an office space, not a residential space. No one cares that it doesn't have parking. The decision makers will take the corner slots with a view and not give a damn that everyone else doesn't have a view (or, given that those lights are irritatingly distracting, maybe the reverse)

You might not get as much as a larger building, but I have no doubt you could make enough to be worth doing.

Re:Profit (2, Insightful)

otterpop81 (784896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408301)

The building is not only paid for in full but he could literally spend $50 million redoing the interior(the next ~two years of income) and then rent out the space for another 5-10 million a year.

Should we make that law then? As soon as your building is paid for, you shall renovate it and rent it out? What if that's one of many other buildings he owns, the rest of which _lose_ money. What then?

Liberals talk about how horrible it is to judge the social morality of others, but they have no problem doing it economically.

It is what is wrong with the Republican Piss Down Theory. This guy is literally sitting on his money.It isn't really doing him as good as it should. If he was actually investing in that property I could see it but he isn't.

The problem with your line of thinking is that if someone invests huge sums of money, time, and life, and makes a profit, they're evil and they should give that profit away, but if they take a loss, then well that's just their own fault for not being a better businessman.

In NYC that location? he could be doing 50-100% more income on that property.

I bet you could do 50-100% more on your own income. How many jobs do you have? Don't have your doctorate yet? That's what's wrong with personal liberty. Not everyone works up to their full potential.

See how ridiculous it sounds when you try to tell someone what they should and shouldn't be doing with their own money and their own life? Get your own life, and don't judge the actions of other people based on 5 sentences you read in a slashdot summary.

Re:Profit (0)

JimCanuck (2474366) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408445)

Should we make that law then? As soon as your building is paid for, you shall renovate it and rent it out? What if that's one of many other buildings he owns, the rest of which _lose_ money. What then?

Anybody who has actually rented out property knows the return on investment is to tiny that it's better just to flip the property on some other poor sap and let them watch their money end up going to endless fixes and utility increases while the Government tells you you can only increase your rent per year a fraction of just the different between last years utility rate and this coming years.

In my personal case, I'm looking at a 2.5% rent increase, while the property tax, and water/sewage's increase alone eats it up, include electricity and natural gas? At this rate, I'll be paying to have renters in in a couple years.

The age of buying property and getting a good return on your investment is long dead. Unless you constantly evict your tenants and increase your new renting price on a near yearly basis.

Re:Profit (-1, Troll)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408461)

The difference is I don't have the financial backing. He probably wouldn't even need a loan to do what I suggested.

Put it into perspective. your house needs a new roof, you have the money sitting in a bank account but you don't want to put the new roof on you would rather it leak and put pots under the dripping water.

This Guy owns outright PRIME real estate in a PRIME real estate market.

I don't think we should have a law.

Then again then top 1% control 20% of the wealth. If they aren't spending that money then what good is it? If 20% of the value of our money is worthless because it isn't being used then our entire currency system is 20% overvalued. That is the fault of guys just like him. and a government made of people like him who have who take and take and take to keep only for themselves.

Social Security is being called an entitlement. but it isn't it is a retirement loan sponsored by the government which you have to pay into. politicians in years past(both sides) instead of investing that money into the future spent it. Now it is gone, and the loans are coming due. So instead of fullfilling the obligations the government is trying to cut corners and take more of that money for themselves by not paying it out and calling it an entitlement.

So the Rich are hoarding their cash. The government is spending money like a drunk. and everyone who is under 30 is going to have their grand kids pay off the debt incurred because of it.

The government will default. and that 20% of wealth will evaporate. He would be better off putting that cash into properties that will still be there to pick up the pieces. Instead the building will be knocked down or sold out from under him in 5 more years.

Re:Profit (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408835)

Should we make that law then?

I think you're the only one proposing that we make it a law. Everyone else is merely pointing out a flaw in the usual argument in favor of trickle-down economics. In other words, while he should and is free to use that land as he sees fit (albeit while paying his taxes and having historical restrictions likely preventing removal of the building), there's no reason that he should receive favorable tax rates over those who work hard for a living, and indeed due to the high income he can contribute a greater share to the general welfare without it impacting his lifestyle.

Re:Profit (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408103)

Because you don't become successful in business by donating or giving things away.

Re:Profit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408237)

Buy him out, boys!

Re:Profit (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408135)

If he's making a profit anyway, why not rent or give the space to local community groups / organisations?

Maybe it is in need of significant upgrades given its age, an the insurance alone might make it unprofitable to rent or donate space to community groups.
Besides, its not the best place for such groups, their constituents don't live there.

Still, the story may not be totally true, as Google Streetview shows lights on in on the 8th floor and Chase bank still appears to have a branch on the ground floor.

Re:Profit (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408529)

alowing people to use the building would incure a liability. its cheaper to leave it empty.

Re:Profit (4, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408603)

Manhattan has actually been coming out of a weak real estate market. I live around the Times Square neighborhood. Several real estate construction projects were cancelled. There are empty stores. It's counter-intuitive, since the price of Manhattan real estate seemed infinite, but that's why we get real estate bubbles that finally burst.

For example, Mayor Bloomberg sold the Donnell library to a hotel company, but the market crashed so it is now a gutted building on 53rd St. between 5th and 6th Ave., one of the most expensive locations in the world.

There are stores in the neighborhood that have closed, and left vacant instead of being rented (even in the Christmas sales season).

Some buildings just stay vacant for reasons that I can't understand. For example, there is 400 W. 57th St., on the SW corner of 9th Ave., which is owned by a Korean investment syndicate, that has remained vacant for maybe 15 years. There was an article in the New York Times about how it was a prime location (3 blocks from Carnegie Hall, and 4 blocks from Lincoln Center) and how they were planning to do something with it, but last time I walked by it was still empty.

Sometimes a real estate company will have vacant property, so they'll throw up a cheap store just do something with it rather than let it sit vacant. I think a lot of the 99-cent stores are set up like that. Some of these stores, like the restaurants and tacky shops, have the landlord as a partner. They're waiting for the real estate market to come back, and then they'll tear down the block and build a new building.

It's strange to think that a building like the one on Times Square could have signs on the outside, but nobody exploiting the inside in eternally-hustling Manhattan. But it happens.

Here's another one: I was living in another building around that area. My super asked me to help him do something in the back yard. He took me through a non-public door, and into a big back yard, that nobody in the building was allowed to use. There was a line of buildings down the north and south street, with a string of back yards between them, and nobody was using the back yards. It was like a collection of secret gardens. There are lots of streets like that in Manhattan, with closed-off back yards, even though space is so precious.

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408709)

Because why would anyone mess with a deal this weird and profitable? Tenants might be within their rights to ask for billboards to be removed or something, if not now, then maybe later with a change in the law.

AD BLOCK NEEDED FOR TIMES SQUARE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407859)

Calling all cars !! Calling all cars !! Be on the look out for an empty building, serving ads !! Attention all units !! One-Adam-Twelve !! One-Adam-Twelve !! Who loves you baby !! Pigs on thw wing !! Car 54 Where Are You ?? 10-54 We Got Him At Gun Point !! Whacha gonna do when they come for you !! Bad boys !! Bad boys !!

First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407873)

Ha ha stupid american consumerism

Advertising: A perverse incentive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407879)

So a building, which is nominally meant to house people and objects, is being used to hang billboards. Space being at a premium in New York City, I find it rather amusing that you can make more money off of advertising using the side of your building than in leasing the floor space.

Re:Advertising: A perverse incentive (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408585)

So a building, which is nominally meant to house people and objects, is being used to hang billboards. Space being at a premium in New York City, I find it rather amusing that you can make more money off of advertising using the side of your building than in leasing the floor space.

The wikipedia page for this building [wikipedia.org] suggests one significant difficulty in leasing the space:

Because of the extensive cost of renovating the building with central air conditioning, the building currently has no tenants above the retail floors

That, and the building where it sits can hold more advertising than what you could accommodate if you tore it down and just put up traditional billboards.

mn? (5, Insightful)

mahju (160244) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407913)

Is it just me or when did "mn" surpass "m" for million? "100mn pedestrians" looks like it should be a measurement in milli-newtons per pedestrians - I'm sure the imperial equivalent is slugs per servants.

Re:mn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408003)

And 100m looks like 100 metres of pedestrians roll through. No winning here.

Re:mn? (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408645)

I believe the proper unit, then, would be 100 Megapedestrians. I would suggest abbreviating to 100 MPd, except that looks like Megapalladium.

Re:mn? (2)

Ryan101 (1698614) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408121)

I just assumed 100 Minnesotan pedestrians passed through each year.

Don't tell the advertisers it's a waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42407915)

I sincerely doubt very much of that money spent translates into actual business.. It's a prestige thing more than anything.

Prestige (2)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408333)

Does the prestige translate into actual business?

Perfect Spot (4, Funny)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42407931)

...for an evil genius to set up his lair. Who would ever suspect an empty building at the busiest intersection in the world?

Re:Perfect Spot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408059)

They would have to evict all the super heroes first.

Re:Perfect Spot (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408167)

Damn.

Empty 23 story building (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408013)

Think of all the good this person could do if he opened the building to the homeless or community organizations.

Re:Empty 23 story building (4, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408177)

How many spare rooms in your own house do you really need? One room, one person's life changed. Hop to.

Mn (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408067)

What is a "mn"?

Re:Mn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408091)

Million

Re:Mn (4, Funny)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408351)

a manoneter

The Curse of the Network Effect Goes Times Squared (-1, Offtopic)

Baldrson (78598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408081)

The Curse of the Network Effect [slashdot.org] is obvious enough in real estate that there is an entire school of political economy geared toward a single tax on land value [wikipedia.org] -- a school most identified with the 19th century political economics author, Henry George [wikipedia.org] .

Again, the real solution is to stop taxing economic activity (capital gains, income, sales, value added, etc) and instead tax market-assessed liquid value of assets [blogspot.com] .

And, again, of course, not many people are going to really understand this idea so it must be demonstrated by those who do get it.

That's why we need Sortocracy [sortocracy.org] .

Re:The Curse of the Network Effect Goes Times Squa (3, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408191)

The Curse of the Network Effect [slashdot.org] is obvious enough in real estate that there is an entire school of political economy geared toward a single tax on land value [wikipedia.org] -- a school most identified with the 19th century political economics author, Henry George [wikipedia.org] .

Again, the real solution is to stop taxing economic activity (capital gains, income, sales, value added, etc) and instead tax market-assessed liquid value of assets [blogspot.com] .

And, again, of course, not many people are going to really understand this idea so it must be demonstrated by those who do get it.

That's why we need Sortocracy [sortocracy.org] .

The proposal you link to essentially removes all control anyone has over their own property. Everyone is, in effect, required to sell any property at any time to the highest bidder. That may be economically efficient, but it sucks on a day-to-day basis for real people. It's the "infinite frictionless plane" type of economist thought problem, not an actual solution to anything. The law would last about as long as it would take for grandma to be kicked out of her house.

Now I Know Who's Making Too Much Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408107)

[100 million people a year] / [some of them being the same people going to and from work every day] - [tourists who don't speak english] = ~5 million a year

Dunkin Donuts thinks it's worth $1 a person to walk past a gigantic logo. It's clear they have more money than they know what to do with, combined with a bunch of overpaid creatively bankrupt marketing people.

Re:Now I Know Who's Making Too Much Money (1)

dmomo (256005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408315)

Not sure if your logic / math is correct, but aretn't you missing the number of people who see those billboards indirectly ( TV, photos, etc)?

hilarious (4, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408179)

He's not making money off the advertising, he's making money off the stupid companies not realizing that there's no way in hell it has an ROI above 1. 3.4 million at Dunkin Donuts' profit margin? That billboard would have to convince something like 1 in 10 people that sees it to go buy a coffee from them to make up its cost. This is right up there with GE realizing after many years that its Facebook ad campaign to the tune of $43 mil didn't have an ROI above 1.

Re:hilarious (3)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408307)

That billboard would have to convince something like 1 in 10 people that sees it to go buy a coffee from them to make up its cost.

Nonsense. One in 1000 would make it profitable, and one in 100 would make it very profitable.

Re:hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408417)

According to a travel magazine, Times square is the most visited tourist location in the world bringing in 39 million people annually [travelandleisure.com]

That would put slashmydots 1 in 10 estimate in the right ballpark. Now, this probably just includes visitors, there is probably an equal number of New Yorkers who pass through the area / visit it multiple times. But still it should not change the order of magnitude.

Re:hilarious (3, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408523)

Ok, let's use your number. 39 million people per year. That's 100,000 per day.

Dunkin donuts pays 3.6m per year. That's just under $10,000/day

That's $0.10 per person. 1 in 10, would make that $1 per customer acquired.

You really think a Dunkin Donuts customer is worth $1? They're going to buy 1 cup of their cheapest coffee, and then NEVER visit the place again their lives.

That's one of the dumbest assumptions I've ever heard.

Dunkin Donuts knows how much each of those customers are worth. It sure as hell isn't $1.

Re:hilarious (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408553)

I know a lot of people who are addicted to Dunkin. Getting someone into the store for the first time
only costing a buck is worth it.

Dunkin' Brands opened its 10,000th location of Dunkin' Donuts in mid-December. Don't assume every ad manager in an organization that big is an idiot.

Re:hilarious (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408657)

He said it would work for 1:10, and not likely for an order of magnitude difference, and I agree, but it is close. 1:100, at 10$ a pop to break even, I would think that the lifelong addicts caused just by the single advertisement averaged with the people stopping in for a single cup of coffee, just because of the ad, would likely average out somewhere around that.

I doubt ROI is 1, but it probably isn't far off.

Re:hilarious (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408703)

Those are all just numbers you pulled out of thin air. You don't know the average DD order size, the average number of orders placed by a customer, the conversation rate of this ad, or any of the other information you need to determine if this ad is profitable. So just STOP. The people who DO KNOW those numbers -- DD marketing employees -- ran those numbers and determined this ad was worth it. In fact it was SO worth it, that they purchased an ENTIRE YEAR up front.

Re:hilarious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408411)

He's not making money off the advertising, he's making money off the stupid companies not realizing that there's no way in hell it has an ROI above 1. 3.4 million at Dunkin Donuts' profit margin? That billboard would have to convince something like 1 in 10 people that sees it to go buy a coffee from them to make up its cost. This is right up there with GE realizing after many years that its Facebook ad campaign to the tune of $43 mil didn't have an ROI above 1.

Then of course you are avoiding the fact that this intersection ends up in more location shots on US television that practically anywhere else outside of the White House/Capitol Hill. 100 million may walk past it, but I'm guessing closer to 300 million see it.

Re:hilarious (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408477)

You're quick to call others stupid, and then show off how dumb you are. Look: the value of a customer is not the same as the amount of a single order. It is the value of ALL of the orders that customer will place over their lifetime.

For example, at some point Starbucks convinced me to purchase one of their incredibly overpriced drinks. I held out for literally years. Then about 3-4 years ago, I started buying their drinks, and since then, they've earned literally hundreds of dollars from me. That + all of the drinks I will buy in the future = my value to Starbucks.

Re:hilarious (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408533)

Lots more people see it than merely those physically there. It's in a very famous area, where New Year celebrations are held, where some movies do some filming, where tourists take photos which are then shown to their friends and posted online, etc.

That said, if this is bringing in 23 million/year I wonder how much Toshiba is paying for their ad on the "ball drop" building...

Re:hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409043)

brand recognition is as important as the act of turning a pair of eyeballs into a $5 sale...

Building is decades obsolete (5, Informative)

kriston (7886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408385)

The One Times Square building is decades obsolete for an office building. However, as a mounting point for the multimedia signs, it is very functional. The empty floors provide power and space for the equipment required to run the signs and the massive equipment required to cool the equipment that runs the signs.

Plus, it's at the crossroads of the world.

Inefficiency (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408431)

And people say the free market leads to efficient allocation of resources...

False advertising :) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408517)

Lets set something straight here, the building used to be empty but about a year ago a Walgreens (with its own crap load of digital signs) opened taking up the first 3 floors. I have been working across the street from this building for the past 5 years and indeed the rest of the building is empty. It is also quite narrow and I just don't see how it would make for comfortable offices. While some taxes might be getting paid the owner does not need to pay for heating or cooling or most types of maintenance. Security, cleaning, water, etc ... This really was a smart move by the guy.

I'm sure that (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year and a half ago | (#42408593)

there are all kinds of jobs being created by this business, so YAY.

Datacenter candidate? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42408629)

If the building isn't fit for human inhabitants, I wonder how useful that square footage would be for a datacenter. With NASDAQ next door, there has to be gobs of fiber running along Times Square. Power infrastructure is already there for the signs. The issue of HVAC is still there, but localized air conditioning is probably easier to achieve than central air.

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