[For rent along 2nd Avenue]
In case you missed this news from last week... City Council passed legislation (totaling five bills) — the first of its kind in the country — that will require landlords to register storefronts with the city. This database will offer a snapshot of retail spaces in the five boroughs and their vacancy status.
As Bloomberg put it:
The effort, aimed at creating a more comprehensive data set to monitor the health of the city’s small businesses, seeks to replace the existing patchwork of available information, which doesn’t paint a complete picture of the state of the market.
The “Storefront Tracker” bill, introduced by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council member Helen Rosenthal and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, requires the Department of Finance to gather data on storefronts that will be bundled into an online resource to better understand the woes of the small-business sector.
Some details via amNY's report:
At the start of each year, building owners with storefront and second-floor commercial spaces, as well as commercial spaces in residential buildings, will be required to register with the city Department of Finance as part of their annual income and expense filings. The size, location, occupancy status, monthly rent, lease status and owner contact information will be required for each space.
Owners who fail to register or who provide inaccurate data will face fines. They will also be required to update the database if the occupancy status or ownership of the building changes within the first six months of the year.
The public will be able to see a commercial building’s occupancy status via the online Storefront Tracker database. More detailed data, such as the median time vacant spaces have remained empty, will be made available online via the census tract or council district.
Small-business advocates were generally supportive of the Storefront Tracker, calling it a useful tool.
“But it is perplexing why a bill counting vacant storefronts was fast-tracked and passed in just four short months,” Kirsten Theodos, co-founder of TakeBackNYC, told The Villager, “while the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a bill that would actually stop the closings by addressing the unfair lease-renewal process, had a hearing eight months ago and since then there has been zero movement toward a vote.”
Said Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation: "[I]t is not by itself nearly sufficient to address the challenges facing small store owners in New York City right now."
The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development had a more celebratory take on the legislation.
"These wins come at a time when neighborhoods across the five boroughs have seen steep upticks in vacant commercial space. Landlords may be prompted to warehouse their storefronts in anticipation of rising rents or with the intent of holding out for the highest bidding tenant."
According to a count done by the East Village Community Coalition last summer and fall, there are over 200 vacant storefronts in the East Village.
As we've seen in the East Village, storefronts can sit empty for up to five years. For instance, two spaces in the retail base of NYU's Alumni Hall on Third Avenue at Ninth Street were vacant from the summer of 2014 until H-Mart opened early last month.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Raising awareness of the vacant storefronts in the East Village