New York City is building a database of vacant storefronts to help small business owners find appropriate spaces.
The city’s rising rents and recent trends favoring online shopping have resulted in a vacancy crisis. The five bills passed in July 2019 as part of this effort require yearly reporting on storefront vacancies, updates on the business environment, and focused tracking of family-owned businesses. The information will be gathered by the Department of Finance and will include size as well as occupancy status and monthly rents if the property is being leased. Two related bills task the city’s Department of Small Business Services the responsibility of training small businesses on regulation compliance and marketing.
Small storefront businesses are an important part of the city’s economic growth. 50,000 small and mid-size retail and restaurant businesses employ more than 600,000 people across the five boroughs. Chris Doeblin, owner of Book Culture, an independent book store chain, believes the legislation is an important step in helping NYC’s small businesses. “We need to have a lot of information and this bill gives us the most basic information about what is open.”