Back in March, Upper West Side Council Member Helen Rosenthal proposed new legislation which would require landlords to notify the city’s Department of Small Business Services when a storefront has been vacant for more than 90 days. This data would then be made available in an online registry. Owners who fail to register would face weekly fines of $1,000.
Another bill would require the SBS to maintain this database publicly, so that it could be viewed by all. The database would include information on rent,usage and occupancy status, among other details. And a third bill would require the City to provide small businesses with training and other technical assistance related to building an e-commerce presence, marketing, and business systems.
Rosenthal presented these bills at a hearing in March.
Today at City Hall I called for a City-wide response to empty storefronts and the loss of independent businesses.As empty storefronts become ever more present on the Upper West Side and in neighborhoods across New York, I've introduced legislation requiring the City — for the first time — to track commercial storefronts citywide. A second piece of legislation requires property owners to register storefronts which are empty for more than three months, and face fines if they do not.Both pieces of legislation were reviewed at a City Council hearing this morning. The hearing can be watched here: https://on.nyc.gov/2HzhTnNImmediately before the hearing, small business owners and workers, merchant associations, neighborhood non-profits, street vendors and others rallied in support of stronger protections and more support for independent storefront businesses.Read the press release: https://bit.ly/2HEYrovMy first bill, Int 1472, requires the City to establish a public, online searchable database of all commercial storefronts in New York. Each storefront’s location, size, current use, availability, and monthly rent, as well as contact information for the property owner, will be included in the database. Owners will be required to submit this information every year, and every time the property becomes vacant.A second piece of legislation, Int 1473, mandates that the City establish a "vacant storefront registry." Property owners will be required to register storefront properties that are vacant for more than 90 days, and face weekly fines if they do not.In 2017, my office released a report examining storefront vacancies on the Upper West Side, and the myriad reasons why independently owned businesses close, including soaring rents, changing consumer habits, and specific family circumstances. https://bit.ly/2UGtQusTo that end, I've introduced a third bill, Int 1471, requiring the City to provide small businesses with training and other technical assistance related to building an e-commerce presence, marketing, and business systems. This bill was also discussed at today's hearing.
Posted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal on Monday, 18 March 2019
As empty storefronts become ever more present on the Upper West Side and in neighborhoods across New York, I’ve introduced legislation requiring the City — for the first time — to track commercial storefronts citywide. A second piece of legislation requires property owners to register storefronts which are empty for more than three months, and face fines if they do not.
It’s very apparent that the commercial landscape of the Upper West Side and all of NYC has been changing dramatically over the last couple of years. But this database would really illuminate the issue.
Earlier today, Gale Brewer sent out a Tweet indicating a vote would be taking place tomorrow (July 23rd):
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NYC isn’t alone in fighting the blight of empty storefronts, but we’ll be first in the nation to establish a publicly-accessible retail vacancy database! Proud to sponsor Int. 1472 w/ @HelenRosenthal & @NYCSpeakerCoJo. Looking forward to tomorrow’s vote. https://t.co/qaUz6lqu9s
— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) July 22, 2019