Empty Stores

The Story

Empty storefronts along formerly bustling city streets are a legitimate concern to residents and planners alike, and have stoked demands for intervention, in the form of commercial rent control or fines on landlords who have no tenants. But a new report from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) suggests that a combination of market-related pressures and government regulation are to blame, not landlords. Before the city jumps in to impose commercial rent regulation or levy special taxes on vacant shops, we should take a careful look at the real causes of the problem. 

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Zoning: Restrictions on use of commercial space vary between neighborhoods and may affect tenants’ interest in leasing storefronts. Read more.

  2. Heavy-handed: Efforts by city government to micromanage a neighborhood retail environment seldom have the anticipated effects. Read more.

  3. Wages: A rising minimum wage and competition from Internet retailers have made it harder for small businesses to compete. Read more.

“The city’s regulatory environment for small businesses is very challenging and often undermines the ability to succeed.”

Jessica Walker, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

Letter From East Harlem By Nathan Glazer (Autumn 1991)

“East Harlem has been a battleground for dueling schools of urban planning. In its shifting history, one can read a cautionary tale about the limits of the reigning ideology — today’s, perhaps, no less than yesterday’s.”

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