This Tuesday, the New York City Council gave the green light on much-needed legislation. The passed bill will create a public database of commercial vacancies. It requires landlords to notify the city’s Department of Small Business Services when a storefront has been vacant for more than 90 days. The bill will provide information on current vacancies as well as small businesses most at risk.
The database will be the first of its kind in the country. Known as the “Storefront Tracker” bill, it was originally proposed in March by Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Rosenthal says the livelihood of small businesses remains under threat. As rents rise and the popularity of e-commerce grows, small companies can’t compete. Many are owned by immigrants and middle-class New Yorkers.
On the Upper West Side, Rosenthal examined empty storefronts. Unfortunately many local business owners have struggled to stay open while big commercial companies have reported a 10% increase in their overall number of establishments.
And with every business lost, residents grow more concerned that the Upper West Side and other NYC neighborhoods are losing part of their unique character. Once-booming shopping districts including Bleecker Street in the West Village and Soho now suffer from double-digit vacancy rates. Perhaps even more importantly, they lose a sense of community . “Furthermore, when storefronts remain empty, they make avenues and cross streets feel less safe”, said Rosenthal.
This bill follows the loss of several neighborhood businesses and restaurants. And several other close calls.
The bills passed will help NYC keep small businesses in communities. This annual reporting on storefront vacancies as well as on mom-and-pop shops hopes to bring a boost for business owners. “You can’t fix a problem when you can’t even begin to measure it,”, said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.Join the Upper West Side newsletter for more local updates: