Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
We still don’t have charges. But they might—only might—be close.
Jacqueline Alemany et al., “Trump lawyers meeting with Justice Dept. on classified documents case,” Washington Post, June 5, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/05/trump-lawyers-meeting-justice-doj/
Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner, “Trump-funded studies disputing election fraud are focus in two probes,” Washington Post, June 5, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/06/05/trump-funded-studies-disputing-election-fraud-are-focus-two-probes/
Rozina Sabur, “Flood at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort raises suspicions in classified documents case,” Telegraph, June 5, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/05/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-resort-flood-pool-documents/
Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers Have 2-Hour Meeting With DOJ Over Mar-a-Lago Documents Case,” Truthout, June 5, 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-lawyers-have-2-hour-meeting-with-doj-over-mar-a-lago-documents-case/
Casey Newton, “The platforms give up on 2020 lies,” Platformer, June 6, 2023, https://www.platformer.news/p/the-platforms-give-up-on-2020-lies
Spencer S. Hsu et al., “Trump special counsel shifts focus of possible indictment to S. Florida,” Washington Post, June 7, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/06/miami-grand-jury-trump-classified-documents/
Alex Isenstadt and Kyle Cheney, “Trump notified that he is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Politico, June 7, 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/07/trump-notified-that-he-is-the-target-of-an-ongoing-criminal-investigation-00100920
During the first three months of 2023, U.S. office vacancy topped 20 percent for the first time in decades. In San Francisco, Dallas, and Houston, vacancy rates are as high as 25 percent. These figures understate the severity of the crisis because they only cover spaces that are no longer leased. Most office leases were signed before the pandemic and have yet to come up for renewal. Actual office use points to a further decrease in demand. Attendance in the 10 largest business districts is still below 50 percent of its pre-COVID level, as white-collar employees spend an estimated 28 percent of their workdays at home.
With a third of all office leases expiring by 2026, we can expect higher vacancies, significantly lower rents, or both. And while we wrestle with the effects of distributed work, artificial intelligence could drive office demand even lower.
Dror Poleg proceeds through a longer-than-I-expected list of consequences: I hadn’t even thought about pension plans invested in commercial real estate, but yeah, fairly obviously, such investments wouldn’t even have come into question prior to COVID-19. And we’re already seeing at least the beginning of a threatened ‘doom loop’ in San Francisco. In Pittsburgh (figure 2), authorities are scrambling to enable conversion of vacant office space to housing, quite frankly because they need people downtown, where property, even entire buildings too often appears derelict, abandoned, and some, probably ruined.
Now, the thing about Pittsburgh is that its downtown had some problems prior to the pandemic. Department stores my mother would surely remember are long gone; I don’t quite know how to concisely describe the mix that’s there now, when life is supposed to be returning to normal, but instead there are more vacant storefronts and even some vacant buildings. Meanwhile, the unhoused population visibly swells. In really a very compact area, you find prosperity juxtaposed with homelessness, and, for me, a weird and mostly revolting mix of shops that mean I only come down here on a mission (like the Fort Pitt Museum, for instance, or, I would hope, sometime in the future, a happening in the Cultural Center) and then I flee.
Dror Poleg, “The Next Crisis Will Start With Empty Office Buildings,” Atlantic, June 7, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/06/commercial-real-estate-crisis-empty-offices/674310/
- Alex Isenstadt and Kyle Cheney, “Trump notified that he is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Politico, June 7, 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/07/trump-notified-that-he-is-the-target-of-an-ongoing-criminal-investigation-00100920↩
- Dror Poleg, “The Next Crisis Will Start With Empty Office Buildings,” Atlantic, June 7, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/06/commercial-real-estate-crisis-empty-offices/674310/↩
- Biz Carson, Karen Breslau, and John Gittelsohn, “Bank Turmoil Collides With Tech Slump in Battered San Francisco,” Bloomberg, April 2, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-04-02/san-francisco-s-feeling-the-pain-of-the-banking-crisis-big-tech-layoffs; Garrett Leahy; Downtown San Francisco: Human Waste Increasingly Found in Westfield Mall Elevators, Staff Say,” San Francisco Standard, May 16, 2023, https://sfstandard.com/business/downtown-san-francisco-human-waste-increasingly-found-in-westfields-elevators-staff-say/; Roland Li and Noah Arroyo, “Cities are struggling. San Francisco could be in for the biggest ‘doom loop’ of all,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 30, 2023, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/city-economy-doom-loop-17846412.php; Roland Li and J. D. Morris, “After Nordstrom store closures, what can San Francisco do to stop the retail exodus?” San Francisco Chronicle, May 3, 2023, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/after-nordstrom-closures-s-f-stop-retail-exodus-18074794.php; Kevin Truong, “Downtown San Francisco Office Tower Likely To Sell at Massive Discount: Sources,” San Francisco Standard, May 8, 2023, https://sfstandard.com/business/downtown-san-francisco-office-tower-to-sell-at-massive-discount-sources/↩
- Mark Belko, “Quicker conversions of Downtown Pittsburgh offices into apartments moving closer to reality,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 21, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2022/09/20/pittsburgh-planning-commission-zoning-apartments-condos-residential-downtown-partnership-larimer-twg-indianapolis/stories/202209200105; Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh streamlines process to convert unused Downtown office space into housing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 8, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-streamlines-process-to-convert-unused-downtown-office-space-into-housing/↩