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New York City’s retail vacancy problem

The New York Post has some interesting articles, here and here, on the growing retail vacancy problem in NYC. (Thank you Michael for the link in the comments this week.)

The vacancy rate on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side is said to be around 27% and it is said to be around 20% on a stretch of Broadway in Soho. It has become such a problem that Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to implement some sort of retail vacancy tax:

“I am very interested in fighting for a vacancy fee or a vacancy tax that would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent but they blight neighborhoods by doing it,” he said on WNYC. “That is something we could get done through Albany.”

But this is based on the assumption that greedy landlords are simply holding out for exorbitant rents. It doesn’t consider the fact that, maybe, there is simply too much retail space:

Only a few grasp the true scope of the problem. Vornado Realty Trust titan Steven Roth said we can only cure the national plague through “the closing and evaporation” of up to 30 percent of the weakest space — which would take five years.

All of this, of course, has me thinking about the future of ground floor main street retail. What are your thoughts?

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