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Council okays plan to track vacant stores

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign new legislation that will track retail vacancies and monitor leases and rents as the city moves to protect “mom-and-pop” stores.

The legislation will require citywide tracking of commercial storefronts and second floor spaces for the first time, providing data on commercial strips considered “at risk,” the location of every vacant storefront, and how much rent is being charged.

“This essential information will be the basis for solutions which help keep small businesses in our communities,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who sponsored two of five bills approved by the City Council last Tuesday.

Council member Helen Rosenthal

“Unfortunately, we have witnessed the loss of far too many small businesses in the last several years, leaving only empty storefronts behind,” she added,

“Whether it’s our five Chinatowns, or the hundreds of Caribbean-owned businesses in Flatbush, or the South American restaurants and businesses of Elmhurst – successful small businesses are the backbone of the middle class, particularly for new immigrants.”

Rosenthal’s legislation would require building owners to register their ground and second floor commercial spaces with the city’s Department of Finance, detailing lease durations, expirations, vacancy and rent.
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bill sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera would require the city to complete an assessment of storefront businesses in at least 20 commercial districts every three years.

Results would be published online on the city’s Small Business Services (SBS) agency’s website and the SBS would have to issue a report in co-ordination with the Department of Finance and City Planning detailing the type of storefront businesses operating in the city, how many people they employ and how much their annual sales are.

The City Council also approved a bill by Council Member Mark Gjonaj to track “micro-businesses” employing between one and nine people to identify challenging issues they face, such as e-commerce or lease renewals.

The Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a bill aimed at getting retailers in good standing an automatic lease renewal, in still pending before the council.

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