Struggling to find lifelines for endangered mom and pops
One of the endangered shops along Ninth Avenue in Chelsea. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel)
With New York in danger of becoming a suburban strip mall, city officials are trying to find a legislative solution to the crisis facing mom and pops.
Faced with rising rents, competition from big retailers and a slowing economy, many small businesses are struggling to survive. News of the closures of longtime businesses makes headlines seemingly every day.
Small businesses are the first to get hit by an economic downturn, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. They are the backbone of our neighborhoods, and are the first to get whacked when there is a drop in the economy.
Legislators are considering a range of options, including offering tax breaks to small businesses. Another possibility is to widen protective zoning rules already introduced in Harlem. Those prevent bank branches from occupying ground-floor space, among other measures.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has organized a neighborhood forum tonight to discuss the crisis. State and local officials are expected to attend.Stringer has also created a small-business task force. Its findings and policy recommendations wont be ready for a couple of months, Stringer said.
We want to galvanize the community and organize, Springer said. We are going to work with the state and the city.
Development pressures are shuttering businesses all across the city.
Residents of a block in Chelsea are taking particular interest in the discussion. A row of small businesses on Ninth Avenue between 16th and 17th streets may disappear after the large building that houses them was sold.
The stores may be shut to make way for high-end retailers more in line with the high-end face of Chelsea.
It may be too late for that block.
We may not save these, but we might save the ones several years down the line, Miguel Acevedo, a member of Community Board 4 in Chelsea who lives near the endangered block.
If you go: The forum is at 7 p.m. at the West Side Institutional Synagogue, 120 W. 76th St.
-- Rebecca Wolfson