Urban Civil Unrest Causes Economic Strain and Uncertainty

Aug 12, 2020

Over the past six months, the United States has experienced a vast array of tragedies leaving many property and business owners’ lives in disarray. We first experienced a pandemic, followed by protest-related to tragedy spanning over all 50 states and the aftermath brought on riots in more than 20 states. While cities are working to recover, some have experienced more damage than could never have been planned for in both physical and financial perspectives. Establishments across the property type spectrum have had to deal with various issues when confronting the repercussions of the civil unrest that has challenged communities and society: the small diner, the storefront clothing stores, local drug stores, gas stations, or major luxury shops. These repercussions now are further delaying cities from reopening and forcing many properties to close their doors completely.

Chicago witnessed extensive damage more than most cities experienced combined. Many notable areas throughout the city were left dismantled and with over 20 million dollars in property damage, Chicago officials are making ways to help recover the damage as much as possible. This property damage did not include the number of establishments that had thousands of dollars merchandise swiped from their shelves. With over 45 major properties damaged in downtown Chicago, many of the owners of the locations agree that they are looking for things to turn around but know that it will be a slow climb to reopening. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a fund of $10 million to help repair and reopen small businesses throughout the city. She also made it very clear that while many had experienced looting and several riots there were peaceful protests that spread across the city that also deserved recognition.

While Chicago begins its preparations to recover from extensive property damage, cities such as Houston experienced a different story. Houston, among a few others, saw more peaceful protest and less looting. Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner prepared Houstonians for protest and the weekend in the days leading up asking citizens to keep things peaceful refraining from looting and violence. His leadership maintained the respect for families that had been affected due to recent tragedies. The city has received acknowledgment for avoiding what most cities have deemed a catastrophe because of his preparations for the city. Many of Houston’s properties and businesses took the days leading up to the protest to board their windows and prepare for what they thought would turn out poorly. Houston has maintained minimal property damage and are still being considered one of the few cities who held and lead peaceful protest without any looting.

Miami and Nashville, much like Chicago, were left lost after the riots and looting that damaged businesses big and small that already were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both cities had both public buildings and statues vandalized by some rioters, with some being set on fire. Tom Johansmeyer, head of Property Claims Services, said that roughly 20 cities experienced extreme damage at an estimated $25 million dollars. While insurance claims are still encouraged, property owners are fearful of losing insurance coverage or the ability to renew policies in the coming years. Many insurance companies – even those that oversee major department stores and national retailers – may begin to see these properties as local risk based on geographic location.

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