Opinion: Combating ‘high rent blight’

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Brad Hoylman

“Commerce is killing culture.” That’s what an East Village small business owner told me as my office prepared a report documenting how independent businesses are being forced out of our neighborhood by rising rents and replaced by national chains or left vacant for years.

I continually hear concerns about this phenomenon — known as “high-rent blight” — from neighbors concerned about availability of local goods and services, empty storefronts’ negative impacts on neighborhoods, and the loss of treasured bookstores and restaurants.

My report, “Bleaker on Bleecker: A Snapshot of High-Rent Blight in Greenwich Village and Chelsea,” examines this vexing problem. Using data collected through surveys across major commercial hubs, the report found a storefront vacancy rate as high as 6.67 percent along Second Avenue from 3rd to 14th Streets, and an even more alarming 10.83 percent storefront turnover rate over the last 12 months. On First Avenue from 10th to 23rd Streets, the vacancy rate was 5.76 percent, while the turnover rate was 11.51 percent.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Keep park goers safe, prune the trees

The following is an open letter to William T. Castro, Manhattan Borough Commissioner of Parks, from Michael Alcamo, executive director of friends of Stuyvesant Square Park: Alcamo sent the letter a day after an oversized tree fell in Central Park, injuring a woman and her three children.

Dear Commissioner Castro:

We are writing to ask for a review of the tree safety and lighting conditions in Stuyvesant Square Park. Due to the wet weather this spring, and the recent hot, sunny days, trees in the western park are flourishing. We normally view this laudable; however, several trees are now obscuring lamp posts in the western park fountain plaza.

Neighbors have recently remarked how dark the park can be after sunset. With the shorter days approaching, we wish to bring this to your attention and ask for your assistance proactively.

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