Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.
Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.
Council Member Annabel Palma, prime sponsor of the SBJSA City Council photo)
The Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, which had been languishing in the City Council for 30 years up until a recent organized push helped get 27 Council members to indicate their support for it, has been blasted by critics as being unconstitutional. What’s interesting though is that no one, not even its stiffest opponents, are giving any reasons why this is the case.
We won’t pretend to be legal experts but what we know is this. Owners of small businesses in this city are in desperate need of some bargaining power because right now they have none. At any time, any business that is doing well and meeting the needs of the community it serves could still disappear overnight, whether it’s due to an obscenely high rent hike or a refusal from a speculative landlord to even offer a renewal at any price.
We appreciate the effort being made by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on a bill that would at least force property owners to negotiate in good faith with a tenant. However, with the only sure thing in that scenario being a one-year lease extension for a business at a 15 percent rent hike, it just won’t be enough to stem the tide of mom-and-pops being forced out by chains and banks.
The SBJSA, however, if passed, would give an existing tenant another 10 years. This would actually make a huge dent in bringing back the stability the city’s retail landscape hasn’t known in many years.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer introduces her bill at a press conference in March.
By Sabina Mollot
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has promised to make 2016 the year of the mom-and-pop shop.
Nine months after proposing new legislation she believes will throw a lifeline to small businesses forced out of their premises by steep rent increases, Brewer said she now considers it priority.
“It’s definitely imminent. Robert Cornegy, the chair of the small businesses committee, has been trying to carve out the best possible bill,” said the borough president, who has been holding roundtables with proprietors of small businesses over the past several months.
The legislation has been likened to a bill that’s collected dust at City Hall for about 30 years called the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act (SBJSA).
Brewer has faced criticism for not supporting the SBJSA but she insists it is a folly that would never be passed by the City Council. Critics, including the Real Estate Board of New York, have blasted SBJSA as being unconstitutional.
REBNY President John Banks, said, “For nearly four centuries, the one constant about New York City has been that it is always changing. The city’s dynamism, in part, is driven by its ever-changing population, building stock and mix of businesses. Understandably, some don’t like change. However, such feelings don’t justify unconstitutional legislation like the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.”