Recently an article in The New Yorker explained high-rent blight in the West Village area. Rising properties values allow landlords to justify raising rents on commercial properties often pricing long-term tenants out of the market. This has resulted tenants being forced to close their business or having to move. Many storefronts have been closed for a long time, as landlords wait for higher paying tenants, often whom are national chains.
New York City is not the only place that high commercial rents start to undermine the unique character that makes areas of a city appealing to shop and visit. When too many national chains move in, it reduces an area’s special attributes and hurts the small businesses that have created the charm and character in the first place.
Ann Arbor’s State Street retail district, adjacent to the University of Michigan’s central campus, recently saw two restaurants closing with claims of “high rent” as a factor in their decisions.
One city is finding a way to deal with empty storefronts. In 2011 a group of people in Minneapolis came together to develop a community real estate cooperative. Northeast Investment Cooperative buys and develops real estate. They have bought, sold, and renovated buildings in an area that was once empty storefronts. The area is now thriving with several businesses enhancing the neighborhood.
To reduce blight in Detroit a task force was created in 2013 called Detroit Blight Removal Task Force. They have been targeting residential neighborhoods first; starting with those that are most populated and have the fewest abandoned homes. The city’s goal is to tear down 200 houses a week. Commercial blight will be more challenging as there are more than 5,400 commercial, civic and church properties on the removal list.
Source: Detroit Free Press