Brewer throws lifeline to mom-and-pop shops

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer discusses her legislation at the Upper West Side location of Halal Guys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer discusses her legislation at the Upper West Side location of Halal Guys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Legislation would make it mandatory for landlords to negotiate with retail tenants

By Sabina Mollot

New legislation could curb a trend of mom-and-pop businesses being replaced by banks and chain stores.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she’s drafting legislation that would make it mandatory for a building’s owner to at least allow a retail tenant a chance to negotiate to keep his or her space.

“The future of street level retail stores and restaurants — I call them storefronters — has begun to look murky,” Brewer said on Monday. “Every day, the press has another story about a kids’ clothing store or a shoe repair shop closing to make room for a chain or a bank.”

The bill, which is being sponsored by the City Council’s Small Business Committee Chair Robert Cornegy at Brewer’s request, along with giving tenants a chance to negotiate, would also give the tenant the option of a one-year lease extension with a maximum rent increase of 15 percent. Additionally, a building owner, if planning on evicting the tenant, would have to give the tenant notice of that intention 180 days before the end of a lease. “So businesses will have enough time to find new space and make a transition, hopefully in the same neighborhood,” said Brewer.

Brewer also said she wanted to help business owners threatened by rent increases the option of purchasing the storefront through “condo-ization.”

“Many of the long-standing small businesses that are here today are only here because they had an opportunity to buy the building,” she said. “There was a time where you could buy a building, but that opportunity today is dim.”

While this is technically already possible under current law, Brewer said there are ways the city could be helping the process along. It may be possible, she added, to create a condo if the business portion of the building is split from the residential portion. Additionally, if 51 percent of the property or more is occupied by the business, it could qualify for a federal Small Business Association loan of up to $5 million.

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Community, 13th Precinct celebrate National Night Out Against Crime

(From left) Police Officer John Considine, 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Rebecca Lynch, Captain Steven Hellman, Police Officer Vincent Arlotta, Community Council treasurer Pat Salin and event organizer Jo-Ann Polise

(From left) Police Officer John Considine, 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Rebecca Lynch, Captain Steven Hellman, Police Officer Vincent Arlotta, Community Council treasurer Pat Salin and event organizer Jo-Ann Polise (more photos inside)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents and local law enforcement celebrated National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday evening, marking the 31st year for the annual event. At Simon Baruch Middle School’s playground, police officers from the 13th Precinct on the next block over manned the grill, including the precinct’s former executive officer, Frank Sorensen, who was recently promoted to commanding officer for Specialty Units in Manhattan South.

The event, organized by the 13th Precinct Community Council, is aimed at raising crime awareness and building working relationships between law enforcement agencies and communities. In recent years though, it’s also become just as much about having a block party on a usually sweltering day.

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