Greedy landlords seeking top dollar on vacant storefronts have prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to say he wants to penalize landlords with vacant storefronts. De Blasio said, "I am very interested in fighting for a vacancy fee or a vacancy tax that would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent but they blight neighborhoods by doing it."
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Recent studies show Manhattan neighborhoods are struggling with high vacancy rates where retail shops are numerous. The vacancy rates on Amsterdam Avenue are as high as 27% while a stretch of Broadway in Soho is at 20%. A "healthy" percentage is 5% or less. "It’s the opposite of what you would expect. There’s a real-estate boom going on for the last 20 years. Why does it look like a ghost town? Tribeca, Soho — these wonderfully overpriced, beautiful properties sitting over empty spaces for years," an exec at Douglas Elliman Commercial named Louis Puopolo said.
The Economic Development Committee claims, "Many landlords prefer to wait for area rents to increase before committing their real estate to long-term leases with relatively fixed terms. If these landlords have deep pockets and large property portfolios, it may make more financial sense to claim a tax loss on vacant property than to rent at a non-optimal value." Naturally, locals are not pleased with the eyesore vacant storefronts present.
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A 24-year-old teacher from Greenwich Village said, "I feel like the empty stores inspire more vandalism and more people to loiter in the area, it looks so abandoned. The area is being gentrified, and with that comes higher prices of rent. They keep pushing out the old tenants. Landlords should either be fined or have a penalty."
Residents weren't exactly pleased when big storefronts began moving in but compared to the present vacancy the locals aren't happy. Allison Smith, 38, an architect who has lived in the West Village for 12 years said, "I think the store owners should be fined, these are residential buildings — it doesn’t feel nice for the neighborhood and pulls the neighborhood down."
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