Beth Krieger, the president of UWS Save our Stores, kicked off their most recent meeting by noting how much enthusiasm was shown at the town hall meeting in December, and that she looks forward to keeping up the momentum. Beth explained that UWS Save our Stores now has 10 people on a steering committee. This is a group of people who didn’t know each other prior to these efforts, but because of this important cause, have come together.
“We’ve been working very hard over the past year doing a lot of research, talking with a lot of our legislators, as well as commercial brokers, landlords and realtors.” Beth said.
UWS Save our Stores has decided to become a nonprofit 501(c)(4). This will allow the group to have structure, elect a board, work on advocacy issues, and continue to meet with elected officials. “We feel it’s important to do this so that our voices are heard, and we can make [big changes],” Beth said.
The group will be open for membership for $25 per person. This will help pay for meeting rooms and other small expenses, such as their website. Donations will also be accepted.
The meeting reviewed all the reasons why small businesses are suffering, such as high rents, property taxes, regulatory hurdles and sidewalk sheds.
Many stores have been vacant for years, so the committee looked into who owned them and if they were intentionally staying vacant or not.
It was noted that many business owners were at the town hall meeting in December, but left feeling confused and frustrated because there were no solutions. The committee said that their findings showed that every storefront has its own unique situation, with different property owners, some more supportive than others.
The committee intends on doing more research to find ways to help various retailers. These efforts include helping businesses that want to find a space. It was noted that Helen Rosenthal’s storefront tracker could help to highlight rentable spaces, as well as the use of commercial brokers. Overall, while many people remain concerned, they are hopeful that this organization can help find much needed solutions, as in recent days local closings have been virtually non-stop.
“I love the Upper West Side. We live on the Upper West Side, it’s our home and we love the neighborhood. We took two years to find the right spot and our landlord waited [to find the right tenant],” said one local business owner. The owner would like to see changes made in the community so that businesses of all types can stay and thrive.
For more information about how to become a member, as well as what bills, initiatives, and research the organization is working on, please visit their website: uwssos.org.