The Real Deal New York

BIDs come out against City Council’s proposed commercial rent bill

Heads of Alliance for Downtown New York, Grand Central Partnership and East Midtown Partnership are opposed to the legislation
By Eddie Small | October 16, 2018 08:30AM

Peter Kalikow, Rob Byrnes, and Jessica Lappin in front of City Hall (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

A group featuring some of the city’s most prominent business improvement districts is coming out against the City Council’s controversial commercial rent control bill.

The bill is known as the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, and it would grant commercial retail tenants 10-year lease renewals if they meet the terms of their existing contracts. A version of the bill was first introduced more than three decades ago, and the council’s Committee on Small Business plans to hold an Oct. 22 hearing on it.

BIDs coming out against the bill include the Alliance for Downtown New York, the Grand Central Partnership and the East Midtown Partnership. They join other real estate trade groups such as the Real Estate Board of New York and the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums that have already expressed their opposition.

Grand Central Partnership chair and H.J. Kalikow & Company president Peter Kalikow said in a statement that activity in the Grand Central district proves “the market is working, without the need for an unnecessary legislative solution.”

“At a time when we are trying to incentive the revitalization of the Grand Central area with the recent adoption of the Greater East Midtown Rezoning, this bill will only deter the type of rebuilding and modernization the Grand Central Partnership district needs,” he said.

Alliance for Downtown New York president Jessica Lappin described the bill’s strategy for dealing with vacant storefronts as “outmoded,” while East Midtown Partnership president Rob Byrnes said it was “short-sighted to put all the blame on property owners, many of whom are also struggling.”

Other groups coming out against the bill include the New York State Association for Affordable Housing and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson has indicated his support for the measure, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has implied it could lead to too much control over commercial properties. The New York Bar Association released a report in September saying that the City Charter, state Constitution and state law do not grant the city the authority to enact commercial rent control.

The bill’s prime sponsor is Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who said it is meant to encourage small business and landlords to act honestly and fairly when negotiating commercial leases.

“This bill is not about rent control,” he said. “This bill is about bringing rights and fairness to how property owners and local business owners negotiate and renew their leases.”