Brewer: Retail blight ‘worse than I thought’

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (pictured at a recent press conference on the Commercial Rent Tax reform bill) conducted a foot patrol study of vacant storefronts along Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two Sundays ago, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, with the help of nearly three dozen volunteers, walked along the length of Broadway in Manhattan, taking note of every vacant storefront they passed. The exercise was for a study on retail blight conducted by Brewer’s office, the results of which were not pretty.

In fact, said Brewer, who strolled a strip from the 60s to the 70s, “It was worse than I thought.”

Along her way, she observed five empty storefronts in a two block radius. “I don’t know how long they’ve been empty,” she said.

She chose Broadway as the street to monitor due to it being a part of so many different neighborhoods. Additionally, from what she’s seen the problem doesn’t appear to be more prolific in some neighborhoods than others.

“In Manhattan, it’s everywhere,” she said.

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Opinion: SBJSA would hurt, not help small businesses

In January, Town & Village published an editorial in support of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA). This was a week after publishing an article reporting on the status of two pieces of pending legislation aimed at helping mom-and-pop shops remain in their spaces, one of which was the SBJSA. Later, this newspaper published an op-ed by Sung Soo Kim that also supported the SBJSA.

The following op-ed is in response to that point of view.

By James R. O’Neill

Town & Village published an op-ed on January 18 regarding the most recent version of “Small Business Jobs Survival Act” (‘Unconstitutional’ claims about SBJSA are real estate propaganda,” by Sung Soo Kim, president, Small Business Congress).

As a commercial real estate agent who lives in the neighborhood, it would be remiss of me not to offer my perspective on a bill that claims to save the mom-and-pop shops but would, in fact, ultimately harm the stores it is trying to protect.

New York City is a city defined by change. Its vitality and ability to thrive have always been a direct result of that change, and it is what will ensure that New York continues to stay ahead of the curve. The misleadingly titled “Small Business Jobs Survival Act” (SBJSA), introduced in June, 2014, would greatly hinder the evolution that has allowed our city to prosper while creating a series of issues for not just the landlords, but also new businesses.

There are several issues with this bill that jump out immediately – in addition to its questionable legality. Speaking very broadly, although this bill’s stated intent is to help small businesses, it seeks to accomplish this by employing methods that are unfair, financially unsound and wholly unnecessary.

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