The Real Estate Board of New York is rallying the city’s business leaders to fight a plan to impose commercial rent regulations on landlords. Councilmember Stephen Levin last week introduced a bill that would create a City Council-appointed board not unlike the Rent Guidelines Board to set annual lease increases on retail, professional service, and manufacturing storefront space instead of landlords.
“This proposal fails to address the increasing burdens facing small businesses and will force successful ones to flee the city,” said REBNY president James Whelan. “NYC’s Department of City Planning and the City Comptroller both recently reported that the issue of retail vacancies is not a citywide problem. In fact, data shows that retail vacancy rates are driven by rising property taxes, longer wait times for government approvals, e-commerce and various other factors.”
Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York said, “What we hear most from struggling business owners are complaints about bureaucracy and unresponsive city agencies, crippling property tax assessment increases, over regulation, scaffolding that obscures storefronts, traffic, and aggressive enforcement.”
Many apartment building owners are relying on their commercial rents to keep their buildings viable as property taxes rise and new residential rent regulations hurt their bottom line, according to Joe Strasburg, president of the RSA.
“Commercial rent control is just another misguided attempt by our legislators to solve an issue with an unworkable solution. Just look at 50 years of failed housing policies that still have not provided affordable housing to low-income families in need,” said Strasburg said.
Scott Plasky, a retail specialist in Marcus & Millichap’s Manhattan office, added, “This issue is a lot more complicated that rent. I like the idea that the city is trying to look out for the neighborhoods, but I don’t believe that rent regulation is the way to do it.”
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