Emergency Belief

Mr. Miller, however, does give President Obama some measure of credit and believes he might be able to provide executive leadership during the next few months, something that has been noticeably absent in the dwindling days of the Bush administration.

“The problem now is that we have a lame-duck president and a transition during a period of significant economic turmoil,” Mr. Miller said last week. “We are definitely in some sort of limbo and hopefully his inauguration will start moving things in a new direction.”

So it’s a start, but a long way from a fait accompli. Call it cautious optimism.

Michele Conte, the director of sales at the Centurion, a midtown luxury condo designed by I. M. Pei, is very bullish on Mr. Obama’s rejuvenating potential, but unlike Mr. Miller and Mr. Signet, she’s more concerned with how his presidency might bring the foreign buyer back into the fold.

Last March, Ms. Conte was at an international property show in Cannes, where she came across European property developers and sales agents desperate for a Democratic president. “It had to be a Democrat, they told me, because in the eyes of the world, the Republican Party has damaged the image of the United States,” Ms. Conte said on Monday.

Like other luxury condos, the Centurion, with apartments selling for $3,020 per square foot, is dependent on a steady supply of foreign buyers. From a marketing standpoint, an arrogant, incurious and crass president is the last thing a sales agent needs, especially in an industry where image trumps all.

The near extinction of foreign buyers has less to do with America’s political leadership and more to do with the ongoing global economic crisis, but perhaps Barack Obama’s America will be a more hospitable environment for bankrolled foreigners to hang their shingle, or in this case, their multimillion-dollar pied-à-terre.

 

AND WHAT ABOUT the badly suffering commercial market? Robert Knakal, the chairman of commercial sales firm Massey Knakal, has one short word for Mr. Obama: taxes. According to Mr. Knakal, the president’s first priority, should he be concerned with fixing the commercial real estate market, is to keep capital gains and income taxes at their current levels.

“Obama’s promise to raise capital gains taxes would have been bad for the city’s real estate market, so it’s good that he is backtracking on that,” Mr. Knakal said on Monday, “but his promise to raise income taxes on people making over $250,000 a year is a cloud hanging over the market.”

The less done there the better, according to Mr. Knakal.

If Mr. Obama is going to start getting involved in infrastructure projects, which is something the new president has hinted at, Mr. Knakal urges him to funnel federal dollars toward public projects that will help spur private-sector growth. One such project on Mr. Knakal’s radar is the expansion of the No. 7 train to the West Side rail yards, where the Related Companies plans a gigantic mixed-use project.

It’s an awful lot to ask for a president, especially since the last guy didn’t exactly set the world on fire (in economic terms, at least). But, with so little to look back on, why not look ahead?

“I don’t remember another era so ready to be forgotten as the Bush era,” Mr. Signet of Bond New York said.

ohaydock@observer.com

Emergency Belief