Exclusive: Former top cop on mission to bring businesses back to NYC

Monahan is out of uniform and ready to work as a senior advisor to Mayor de Blasio
MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- One of New York City's former top cops has new marching orders: to bring businesses back to a COVID-stricken city.

These days it can be depressing to see what NYC has become after nearly a year of the pandemic, with wide swaths of Manhattan all but deserted. However, Terry Monahan sees hope.

"Everything will start to reopen, you will see New York come back," Monahan said.

Once the highest-ranking cop in the NYPD, Monahan famously took a knee to help diffuse tension between police and protesters last summer.

But now he's out of uniform and into City Hall. His new role is every bit as crucial.

He's now a senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and it's Monahan's mission to convince business owners that it's safe to come back.

"You start filling up these office buildings again with workers, as Broadway opens up, that is going to be the main thing that helps bring this city back," Monahan said.

At least 85% of Manhattan's office space sits abandoned. Clocks have stopped and plants have taken over after tens of thousands of workers vanished overnight one year ago.

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Midtown isn't deserted. At least not the way it was last year. There are some people walking around, some cars on the street.

But it's of a weekend vibe. And it is not the weekend.

Rob Byrnes runs the Business Improvement District a few blocks east of Times Square where there's little else but office space and a few boarded up hotels.

"It's saddening to see all these businesses, people have poured their time and their money to build, that are going under or are very precarious right now," Byrnes said.

Some things have changed forever. As more people work from home, there is less need for an office.

But with vaccinations gaining momentum and the weather finally turning, Monahan said his phone is already blowing up with business leaders ready to come back, and, he hopes, lift up an entire town.

"This is New York, New York - we don't stay down forever," Monahan said.

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