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Pandemic hit, Many New Yorkers fled, but Roosevelt Island stayed put

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Although the exodus was not as bad as expected, many New Yorkers left the city during the pandemic. But Roosevelt Island stayed put. Real estate giant CBRE released a study of American move outs, and in a granular look at the details, Roosevelt Island stands out as an oasis of stability.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

The CBRE report confirms what we already suspected. That is, the pandemic hit urban centers hardest, and that included population changes. But while some cities felt hollowed out at the peak of the national shutdown, it wasn’t as bad as feared.

Nationally, according to USPS records, urban centers saw 15% more move outs in 2020 than in 2019, yet that merely extended an existing trend. And the majority moved to locations nearby, within 100 miles. With many amenities of urban life vanished, at least temporarily, remaining in densely packed, expensive cities lost value.

Still, some areas got hit worse. And, in fact, Sun Belt and mid-nation urban centers faired well, some even gaining population.

The biggest losers: San Francisco, New York and Seattle, and in that order.

But Roosevelt Island stayed put…

Page 8 of the study breaks down the exits in a handful of cities, including New York. It’s granular, according to Zip Code, and it’s a bear to pry apart.

But after wrestling gamely with the graphics, I found some striking details about Roosevelt Island, Zip Code 10044.

Surrounding Zip Codes in Manhattan and Long Island City glowed green, the color used for reflecting highest impact. Diving in, I found them losing from 50 to 80 residents per thousand. In fact, 9 of the 10 worst hit by move outs were in Manhattan, and the outlier was in Long Island City.

Squeezed in-between, though, was Roosevelt Island, and the numbers showed that Islanders stayed put.

The narrow slab of rock with a thin layer of dirt on top showed, not green, but a pale off-white.

The community lost just 5 per thousand residents, a remarkable figure that reflects a value proposition sustained even during the worst public health crisis in a hundred years.

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