The complex, which normally is home to some 18,000 office workers and attracts countless tourists, has, like the rest of Midtown, not been its usual bustling self since the coronavirus outbreak. Business has fallen off in the retail shops. And although the number of workers on the campus has inched up since the summer, the office buildings are still only about 13 percent occupied, said Iva Benson, a Tishman spokeswoman.
But Rockefeller Center seems to be in good shape financially; nearly all office tenants have been paying their rents, Mr. Speyer said. Some retail tenants have renewed or expanded their leases, he continued, while other businesses have signed new leases.
During warmer weather this year, Tishman set up tables in the plaza, and there were pop-up restaurants. Because of the outdoor dining, Tishman pushed back the opening of the rink, which usually happens on Columbus Day weekend. So the skating season is being squeezed on both ends.
When Rockefeller Center opened in 1933, the rink wasn’t part of the plan. It was added to enliven the plaza in winter. And it worked.
“Think of all the wonderful public spaces we have,” said Kent Barwick, the former president of the Municipal Art Society, a preservation group, who was chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission when it initiated the designation of Rockefeller Center. “Not many are oriented to the cold weather months.”
That may make the rink’s abbreviated season all the more crushing.
Ms. Groff even suggested that the pandemic might be a good time to get the work done, since the number of visitors is down.
“And hopefully the tourists will come back.”