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The Morning Grumpy – 11/16/12

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. That giant sucking sound you’re starting to hear? It’s the real estate vortex that will soon be created in downtown Buffalo once HSBC empties their namesake tower in October 2013.

HSBC has not said when it will make an announcement about their plans. But HSBC Bank USA President and CEO Irene Dorner held a routine conference call with her senior managers this week and indicated all employees will be leaving the tower by next October, according to a bank employee who was briefed on the call.

Listen, we’re all adults here. The bank is leaving the tower as are all the other tenants. HSBC has no use for so much space in Buffalo. The building is not (contrary to the protests of Seneca One Realty) Class A office space and needs massive investments to attract a new anchor tenant. And let’s be honest, what local employer needs that much space? So, that leaves us looking at more “hotel space” to compete with six current hotel projects planned for downtown or condos and apartments. Let’s just not. Can we just knock this thing down? If not, can we finally put Alan Bedenko’s Super Vidler’s idea in motion for the tower?

2. It’s time to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 and perhaps index it to inflation.

That wage adds up to a pitiful $14,500 a year, not enough to make rent in any state. It’s over $3,000 below the poverty line for a parent with two kids. Its purchasing power is 13 percent lower than in 1979. Yet the average minimum-wage worker earns about half of his or her family income.

A report released today from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows income inequality has spread like a rash across all fifty states, with the average income of the top 5 percent of households now 13.3 times the income at the bottom fifth. The biggest cause of this gulf identified in the report is the growth in wage inequality.

There is voter support for this measure, but it’s probably dead on arrival in Congress. However, it should still be proposed and debated, at a minimum.

3. Republican Senators are so incredibly upset about the lack of information on the Benghazi incident that they skipped classified briefings on Benghazi to complain about the lack of, ummm, briefings?

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been the leading congressional critic of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack and what he sees as the administration’s lack of candor with Congress on the matter. On Wednesday, he pledged to block the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to Rice’s statements on the attack. That drew a sharp rebuke from President Barack Obama at Wednesday’s press conference.

But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn’t attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.

So, there’s that.

4. 85% of smartphone/tablet owners use their device while watching TV (41% do so daily).

44% of 18-24 year olds and close to 50% of 25-34 year olds are visiting social networking sites on their smartphones during both commercials and programs while watching TV. With tablets, 36% of people 35-54 and 44% of people 55-64 dive deeper into the TV program they are currently watching, the report says.

Hmm, seems like social media might be the thing that makes live television vital once again.

I think of it as a virtuous circle. Social media, the web, and television. Each one of those platforms helps drive and reinforce the other two. That’s the way we look at it. We don’t think Twitter is only good for driving clicks. Twitter is tremendous for driving awareness.

There is a symbiotic relationship blooming and the first network to figure out how to best manage multi-platform content consumption will establish a durable advantage in the marketplace.

5. Working from home stinks. I try to do it, but I find it filled with too many distractions and a general unwillingness to put pants on. On the other hand, I despise working in coffee shops due to the noise and distractions found there. So, what is a modern telecommuter to do?  Join in on the new workplace revolution that’s happening all over the country.

Workers have for many years arranged to do business at “third places” like Starbucks amid nearly ubiquitous connectivity. But companies are formalizing the arrangement, reducing and even eliminating assigned offices or cubicles, and renting space in hotels and underutilized office spaces as needed. The consulting firm Accenture has moved 100 percent of its employees to this model, where workers book office space like booking a hotel room. Accordingly, hotel chains like Marriott are getting into the game, accommodating “co-working” and “community work club environments” so they are not just places to sleep, but to work, for professionals constantly on the go.

There are a few option for those of us in Buffalo looking for such spaces, most notably, Cowork Buffalo.

Fact Of The Day: When astronauts return from space they are usually ~ 2 inches taller. This is due to the low gravity in space that allows for the vertebrae in the spine to spread apart.

Quote Of The Day: “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” – Tony Gaskins

Springsteen Of The Day: “Quarter To Three” – Hammersmith Odeon, 1975. Clarence kills it in this one.

Song Of The Day: “Home” – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com


  • MaxPlanck

    Chris, your #1 and #5 topics are inextricably linked. With organizations flattening out and moving operations to back office sites in the ‘burbs and overseas, there’s declining demand for the central business district, ‘head shed’ glass and concrete towers, just like HSBC’s mammoth behemoth which will have a rough road to achieve the levels of occupancy necessary to recover its operating costs and satisfy ownership’s expected return on investment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoff-Butler/1494694825 Geoff Butler

    Companies vacate aged office space fairly regularly throughout the country without nearly the panic that has brewed locally in anticipation of what will happen with HSBC.  

    What I’d expect to happen would be for tenants of smaller downtown and suburban spaces to move in and gradually fill the void.  The buildings they vacate would likely be better suited for residential and/or hotel conversion. 

    No need to fear the vortex or sucking sounds.  Things will likely be just fine if or when HSBC leaves the tower.