We price apartments and commercial space in dollars per square foot. We pay for loss factors (unusable space not usable but included as rentable space). Messengers squeeze through tiny spaces - see story here. Subways are overcrowded. Cars are jockeyed in lots and garages at extraordinary rates. People have been murdered over parking spots on the street.
Some store pots and pans in the oven. Why not leave them in the dishwasher? Who has room for a dishwasher? We move the toaster a few inches to make space for the blender to make space for the dish rack.
Bicycles hang from hooks in the ceiling. Many pay for off site storage. There is typically no room for washer/dryers in apartments, so most carry their laundry to a laundromat. There are very few tennis courts and rates can run to $100 per hour.
In New York City, every inch is spoken for and in that type of environment, every inch has its price - a hefty price.
Everything is designed around space constraints. We think vertically. Everything is stacked - apartments, businesses and their contents. Air rights are bought and sold - see here.
Hot dog vendors pay extraordinary fees to operate outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the premier spot in the entire city for street vending of hot dogs. Pasang Sherpa contracted for $642,702.19 per year to the New York City parks department for the right to sell hot dogs there (to close shortly after opening). Then, in 2007, disabled Vietnam veteran Dan Rossi set up shop, acting on an 1894 state law that allows disabled veterans to sell in restricted areas. For free. On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum steps (see story here), I spoke to Jose Cabrera, who works for Rossi. Jose is also a disabled vet, having served two tours in Iraq.
Of course other veterans have followed suit and the whole situation is a mess. The city claims there is room for only one vendor. From the New York Times:
... there is room for only one vendor because of regulations regarding the location of the carts and because bus and taxi boarding zones must be kept clear.
Two weeks ago, officers began handing out summonses, in most cases saying the carts were too far from the curb. Vendors said they were in a bind: If they were near the curb, they would be ticketed for obstructing the bus and taxi stops, and if they were farther out on the sidewalk, they would be ticketed for being too far from the curb.
Dan Rossi has weathered the police ticketing and hot dog vendor battles. Recently, however, the city has been looking to diversify the food options outside the Met and has leased vendor space to Cake & Shake of Long Island City, Queens for $659,350 for a five year period. Read the whole New York Times story here.
I assumed once someone acquired a license to vend on the streets, they would not be hampered by space constraints most New Yorkers face. But even in the great outdoors of New York City, every inch is spoken for and every inch has a price ...
Note: The name Sgt. David Gonzales across the top of the cart is not the owner's name, rather, that of a Vietnam vet killed in action and friend of cart owner Dan Rossi.