Greenpoint Gazette

Community Forum to Offer Survival Strategies for Local Business

BY Tanay Warerkar

As has been well documented on these pages, Greenpoint’s “mom and pop” shops have been shutting down at a faster and faster rate, due to rapidly escalating rents.

Video rental store Photoplay, the close-to-one-hundred-year-old hardware store Goldsholle and Garfinkel Hardware and clothing boutique Dalaga on Franklin Street were just some of the casualties from last year.

A newly proposed law aims to stem that tide, and community organization Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) is doing its part as well, hosting a roundtable discussion next week at the Sunview Luncheonette on how small businesses can support themselves in Greenpoint.

“I am one of many local Greenpoint residents who have been distressed as they watch this kind of slash and burn situation with longtime small businesses disappearing overnight,” said NAG board member Emily Gallagher, who spearheaded the event. “We want the artistic and immigrant businesses to survive. They have given Greenpoint the character it has today and I think there’s an increasing recognition and appreciation smaller businesses and it’s time for them now to organize.”

At next Wednesday discussion, “Can Small Businesses Survive in North Brooklyn?” local businesses will be encouraged to share their stories of struggle and their relationships with their landlords. The group will also strategize on how to work as a unit to fight for the stability of the small business community.

The event will feature representatives from TakeBack NYC and the Artist Studio Affordability Project along with members of NAG.

TakeBack NYC is a coalition of small business owners, advocacy groups, and residents who are determined to protect the rights of small, independently run business. A large part of its work involves raising awareness about the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which will be a highlight of the discussion next week.

The Jobs Survival Act is currently a bill that is on the floor of the City Council. Among its provisions are that commercial tenants get a minimum 10-year lease with the right to renew; restrictions on landlords that would prevent them from passing on property taxes to their small business owning tenants; and equal grounds for negotiation at the time of renewal discussion with a third party arbitration as recourse if fair terms are not met.

The bill pertains to non-profits, manufacturing, retail, and service businesses, performing and theater arts groups, commercial tenants, and professional medical practices and businesses; and it seeks to end discriminatory practices on the part of landlords such as a sudden spike in rent or an unfair bargaining platform as was experienced by the owners of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, an independently run flea market that was recently forced to abandon its space on Banker Street after the landlord allegedly chose to go with the higher paying new tenant – BMW.

Wednesday’s meeting is the first step in organizing towards an increased push for greater rights for small business owners. Galvanizing support in North Brooklyn is part of a citywide effort currently taking place to raise awareness about the issue.

Supporters of the bill have also launched a change.org petition to encourage the City Council to act on the motion. The petition has garnered over 3,000 supporters so far.

Can Small Businesses Survive in North Brooklyn? May 27, 7:10 p.m., Sunview Luncheonette, 221 Nassau Avenue. To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/439787749533667/ this is expected to be followed by a citywide event in June. For details, visit http://takebacknyc.nyc/.

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