MTA proposes percentage-based rent payments for Grand Central retailers

Small businesses would pay rent based on percentage of gross revenue


Even though there have been small signs of recovery in the retail sector, rent payments to landlords are still below pre-pandemic levels. To make up the difference, some landlords have been experimenting with solutions that will help them stay afloat.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees operations at Grand Central Terminal, is one such landlord: It has proposed collecting a percentage of rent from businesses within the train station based on gross revenues, Eater NY reports. The MTA’s chief development officer, Janno Lieber, said that the agency is still discussing what that percentage could be.

One caveat: The agreement would cover only small businesses, not chains with a large national presence like Starbucks or the Apple Store.

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“This is going to motivate us to do our job and help us survive through this difficult time,” says Nicolas Dutko, the founder of Tartinery, a cafe located inside the train station.

Many of the shops and restaurants within Grand Central Terminal have been struggling since they rely on tourists and commuters for their business. Just this week, the iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar announced that it would close again, just two weeks after reopening along with the return of indoor dining.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the MTA’s board, which will meet on October 28. If approved, it would stay in place until ridership on Metro-North, which operates out of Grand Central Terminal, returns to normal levels, but the MTA doesn’t anticipate that happening before early 2022.

Currently, ridership is about 80 percent below what it was before the pandemic.

[Eater NY] — Sasha Jones