Marc Fader

The 86th street thoroughfare in Bay Ridge has been a bastion of small business activity in Brooklyn for decades.

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There has been a disturbing trend in New York City over the years where good “mom & pop” business are getting pushed out by rent hikes that are double, triple and even quadruple than what they were paying—or by a landlord who simply denied them a lease renewal. Every month New York loses over 1,000 small businesses, which equates to over 8,000 jobs lost.

For three years, there has been a bill sitting in the City Council called the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) that would stop the closings by giving rights to small business owners (and anyone else with a commercial lease, like artists and cultural institutions) so they can negotiate a fair lease with their landlord.

There are now 28 Councilmembers who have stood up and co-sponsored the SBJSA. Even though the SBJSA has garnered the support of the majority of the Council, it is being denied a hearing and a vote. As one observer recently wrote, “You’d think a law that would give small businesses a fighting chance against astronomical rents and the soulless chains willing to pay them would be an easy sell for a City Council chock-full of progressives and our supposedly liberal mayor.” But sadly, city elected officials are beholden to the powerful real estate lobby, the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY). As the saying goes: Oil is to Texas as real estate is to NY.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio was a Councilmember he sponsored the SBJSA. When he ran for Public Advocate, he championed it. Now that he is mayor, he is prohibiting the same bill from reaching the floor for a vote and recommends urging landlords to be less greedy.

As we are head into election-year debates, the city needs to know what happened? Why has Mayor de Blasio abandoned his campaign pledges to take this city in another direction from Mike Bloomberg and help our struggling small businesses so they can survive? There are vacant storefronts in once vibrant neighborhoods and affordable grocery stores are closing all over the city.

Why hasn’t the mayor called a public hearing on the small business crisis so New Yorkers can hear all of the proposals to address it?

What are the other candidate’s solutions to stop the closings and save New Yorkers jobs before mom & pops are wiped out into extinction?

Kirsten Theodos is the cofounder of TakeBackNYC.

6 thoughts on “CampaignViews: Powerful Forces Stop NYC Leaders from Helping Mom & Pop Stores

  1. This is nothing more than commercial rent control which will backfire on the city by making it unprofitable to own even a small commercial building. NYC raises the assessments on commercial properties every year, which in turn increases the property taxes. The looming $15/hour minimum wage will close more NYC small businesses than any rent increase.

  2. You have to question what the heck is the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone empowering when they are suppose to market and help small business. That currently is not happening. We also need to look at the Harlem Community Development organization where nobody knows how Curtis Archer is still employed at this quasi agency run by Empire State Development. Again, they are suppose to help small businesses and yet there are so many empty store fronts in Harlem. What about these so-called Chamber of Commerce? What does the Harlem Chamber of Commerce do?

  3. If native new yorker is correct, then what is the answer? Store fronts are empty. Prices in all areas are increasing. People on fixed or “tight” incomes are being crunched—seeing their dollar worth less and less, because remaining stores are paying large rent increases that must be passed along to the consumer. I count about seven or eight new luxury buildings either opening or being built between 75th street and Broadway and 81 street—similarly their are about 5 new stores specializing in healthy fruit drinks that charge at the minimum $8.50 for a small drink. How many people in the area can afford this? Something has got to give. There must be some way of working out a reasonable solution.

  4. In response to native new yorker. From my understanding these building were supposed to be built to house human beings where they can operate a business that serves their local community and house human beings that could live there, but the main concern is for the well being of capitol. Maybe a system change in the horizon, because its insane how we are actually justifying this.

  5. To native new Yorker, the SBJSA is NOT commercial rent control. I suggest reading the bill before commenting.

  6. Anyone interested in participating in a rally some time soon to save a minority owned family business (shoe repair) from leaving the City, this is a perfect opportunity.
    It’s a store front on 9th Avenue in Hells Kitchen, 646 Ninth Avenue (45 – 46 St.).
    It’s a common site when a retail business packs up and leaves its location. Most people, when
    seeing an abandoned storefront, simply assume that it’s just another retail business that left for the usual reasons: non-payment, lease non-renewal, retirement, etc.
    Not in this case. The landlord happens to be an HDFC, a co-op apartment building dedicated to the maintenance of affordable housing. Funny thing, however, as the co-op has been the recipient of a lot of subsidies from the beginning and over the years: low interest loans for the rehab loan, a grant of $207,000 from DHCR, authorized by the Clinton neighborhood, to keep the rents low (average residential maintenance – $350 per month), a cash reserve of $1,000,000. That’s right, $1,000,000. And so, one can only wonder why the co-op board refuses to give the shoe repair shop any kind of rent relief but instead continues to jack up the rent to its current amount, $7,000 per month. On a number of occasions, the shoe shop owner, Vera, has asked the Board to provide a little rent relief, but to deaf ears. I asked them myself, but got ditto. It appears that this co-op Board is looking to get into the commercial real estate business, but what can they gain by that? The rents from the stores is like icing on the cake. The 2 stores are a real gift to this HDFC. Small wonder that the shoe shop moved out. He says that he’ll be happy to move right back in but if the rent was more reasonable.
    This provides a perfect opportunity to any resident of this City who has any sense of social
    justice to make a difference by making their voices heard–loudly. This co-op board has plenty of dirty laundry that they wouldn’t want aired to the public. By the way, I’ve been in court with them for the past 3 years. It’s a corrupt board. Check out the sun deck they put up on the roof. Think “The Great Gatsby”
    Any interest in organizing a loud street protest, let me know. It’s hard to go it alone.

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