City Council is about to give the retail market a shot in the arm

Commercial rent tax reform could pass Thursday

Dan Garodnick and a vacant storefront on the Upper East Side
Dan Garodnick and a vacant storefront on the Upper East Side

The City Council is about to give New York’s struggling retail industry a much-needed boost. On Thursday the chamber is expected to pass a bill that would lower taxes for many small retailers.

Currently any retailer south of 96th Street that pays more than $250,000 per year in rent also pays a tax on that rent. The new bill would raise the threshold to $500,000, meaning around 2,000 business would escape the tax, the New York Times reported.

“So many storefronts today are vacant for a variety of reasons,” said Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who introduced the bill. “But also because we are not doing enough as a city to support our mom-and-pop businesses.” 42 other Councilmembers co-sponsored the bill.

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Retail vacancies have increased in recent years, as stores are squeezed by rising rents and competition from online retailers like Amazon.

“You don’t want every neighborhood, every block to just be pharmacies and banks,” Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told the Times. “You want there to be opportunities to be smaller retailers that are locally owned, that have a history in the community. Being able to provide some relief for them is something we have to take seriously as a city.”

In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office criticized the bill, pointing to the loss in tax revenue. [NYT]Konrad Putzier 

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