Re: Storefront vacancies
While I do not dispute any of the claims regarding the store owners’ challenges, but I was disappointed that the article did not note that all of the photographed vacant storefronts had stairs or a step that made them inaccessible to shoppers or diners with a wheeled device.
As someone who relies on a scooter for mobility, I find that Lower Manhattan, and especially the zip code that your highlight, excludes me with stairs, hard to open doors, especially if I must stop on a ramped threshold, hard to navigate indoor space and displays, inaccessible restrooms, etc.
It should not be a surprise why people like me shop online or frequent chain locations, use food delivery services and ride share apps; small businesses exclude or overly challenge those of us with wheeled devices.
I do not wish harm to the business owners or taxi drivers, but those of us who cannot climb stairs, open heavy doors, perch on inclines and are too short and curb restricted to flag down taxis are happy that we have finally been recognized as customers with money to spend and needs to meet.
As the population ages and more families bring strollers with them, business owners and city policy makers really need to rethink this issue. Encouraging businesses without encouraging accessible and inclusive spaces would be bad policy and likely to fail.
I am fully in support of Gale Brewer’s proposal to tax building owners who leave storefronts vacant for long periods.
We have too many in our own and nearby neighborhoods.
Maybe, building owners pay less tax on an unproductive property, so charging them something on unrented space could provide some necessary motivation.
I will let my CouncilMember know my opinion on this issue, and hope others in the community consider doing the same.
Maryanne P. Braverman
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