New York City

Vacancy Tax Suggested to Fix NYC's Skyrocketing Empty Storefront Problem

The number of empty storefronts in New York City has skyrocketed, a new city council report has found.

The recent study by city council member Helen Rosenthal has found that the number of shuttered storefronts has been on the rise for a decade in the Big Apple.

She found vacancies had shot up from 8 to 14 percent on Broadway, from 7 to almost 15 percent on Amsterdam Avenue and from 10 to 12 percent on Columbus Avenue. 

Businesses say the problem is rising rents, with some complaining that rents have tripled, if not quadrupled, over the last decade, spelling closure for many mom and pop stores.

"It destroys the whole neighborhood," Upper West Side local Archie said.

To lure back those businesses at the core of New York City culture, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer pointed to two possible solutions. One is to raise fees on landlords who refuse to negotiate what they're asking for on store rent. She agrees that shuttered stores affect the whole neighborhood.

"Stores nearby feel the affects detrimentally because of garbage building up and the homeless and other things that don't help your storefront."

However building owners are likely to argue they're allowed to wait for the right price. 

Brewer also suggested cutting taxes on grocery stores, known as the commercial rent tax. Hearings on the vacancy problem in the city are expected over the next month. 

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