What to Know
- Upper West Side residents are worried about the increasing number of empty storefronts in their neighborhood
- Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal says store vacancies are up over the last decade because rents and e-commerce are on the rise
- Rosenthal has written legislation that would have the city track vacancies and store them in a database so officials can analyze trends
As empty storefronts increasingly litter the landscape on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, neighbors are growing distressed about the retail blight in their community.
Residents Ann Meyerson, Susan Eley and Beth Krieger launched a Facebook group called Upper West Side Save Our Stores after noticing "For Rent" signs popping up all over the area. It instantly took off online and caught the eye of city councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.
Rosenthal, who represents District 6, said store vacancies are up over the last 10 years because rents and e-commerce are on the rise. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently revived a proposal to tax landlords who leave storefronts vacant for long periods of time, holding out for higher paying tenants -- but Rosenthal believes the real solution is more complicated because each location is different.
"An effort we're starting in our office is to identify the locations that are persistently vacant and try to communicate with those landlords and building owners and say, 'What's going on there? What can we do to help you rent this space out?'" she said.
The councilwoman has also written legislation that would have the city track vacancies and store them in a database so that local officials could analyze trends.
Mike Mishkin, the founder and editor of the blog ilovetheupperwestside.com, has been writing weekly about the neighborhood for six years.
"In the last year, I've written more about places closing than ever before," he said.
Save Our Stores plans to conduct its own research in the neighborhood.
"We're going door to door to empty storefronts, and then we want to figure out how to help the elected officials," said Kreiger.