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NYC Small Business Owners Call For Rent Reform

Jumaane Williams

Photo by Nora Thomas

Small business owners are calling on New York City to address what they are calling a growing vacancy crisis. 
The New York Times reported last fall that 20% of Manhattan's retail space is vacant. In response to what they see as rampant real estate speculation city-wide, advocates of the Small Business Job Survival Act are calling on the City Council to take action to protect small business owners against rent hikes. 
The bill was originally introduced in 1986 and aims to guarantee mininum 10 year leases with the right to renewal to small business owners. It also grants them equal standing with landlords in renegotiation. 
Laure Travers has owned the Clandestino bar on Canal Street in Manhattan since 2005. Currently, her original lease is still in place, but she is anxious for the day it end. 
"My concern is when the lease is up, it's like I never existed as a business," Travers said. "If we don't come to an agreement with the landlord, I would lose my job and my six employees would lose their jobs as well."
--Story by Nora Thomas