NYC Council bill looks to tackle growing issue of empty storefronts

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A new bill in the New York City Council looks to tackle the city's growing problem of empty storefronts.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan, says every day she walks the streets of her neighborhood and sees dozens of empty storefronts now.

“You walk by many of the storefronts and there are big ‘For Rent’ signs in the windows,” she said.

Rosenthal says the pandemic has caused far too many shops to shut down because they could not afford their rent, and the city needs to do something to help protect these small business owners.

“What they need is some assurances when they think about their next lease,” the councilwoman said.

She has proposed new legislation in the City Council, which is dubbed the “Storefront Bill of Rights,” and would force landlords to renew a lease if a tenant is in good standing, with no more than a 10% rent increase.

Rosenthal notes that landlords could ask for more but, would have to justify a larger increase.

“If they want to raise rents higher, there is a process for them to do so,” she explains.

If a tenant is not able to renew a lease, under the new bill, the landlord would have to give the business an additional 90 days to close their doors.

Landlords have already come out against the bill, with one telling The Real Deal magazine that it could keep retailers away from New York City.

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