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Manhattan BP Pushes Mediation for Small Biz Rent Disputes

Manhattan BP Pushes Mediation for Small Biz Rent Disputes
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Brewer hopes to preserve City’s “interesting quality of life.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer says she has seen some of her favorite bakeries in New York close. Now she's trying to help other small businesses survive in the City.

The BP is co-sponsoring a new rent mediation bill to help settle disagreements between building owners and their storefront tenants.

Brewer says commercial leases are currently negotiated in a lopsided way

"Having been through literally hundreds of these kind of discussions with small businesses, it's often: ‘you're out!’" she said.

Under the new plan, if a deal cannot be reached on rent, small businesses could keep their space for an extra year at a 15% increase while they look for a new space.

Brewer says the new bill is "more practical" than a similar bill that has wallowed in the City Council chambers for years without being passed.

Rent mediation is just one of a whole slate of recommendations in a report released today by the Manhattan BP's office titled "Small Business, Big Impact: Expanding Opportunity for Manhattan's Storefronters." Another idea includes pushing so-called "commercial condos" where small businesses own their space, and lifting the cap on street vendors. The report also suggests rezoning areas to allow certain storefronts in otherwise residential areas.

Brewer appeared with City Council Small Business Committee Chair Robert Cornegy at The Halal Guys restaurant on the Upper West Side. She cited it as an example of a small business that has succeeded, expanding from one food cart to various carts and two brick and mortar locations in New York City, with plans to expand nationally and internationally.

Brewer complimented said the point of the recommendations is to keep “national chains” from gobbling up space.

"Fewer storefronts means fewer mom and pops, which I love and we all love," she said. "Which means fewer available services in the neighborhood and in my opinion, a lower, less interesting quality of life."