A survey conducted by Congressmember Anthony Weiner of 10 shopping hot-spots in Queens has revealed that an average of 12 percent of all storefronts is either closed or closing.
Weiner unveiled the findings outside a shutdown storefront on Jamaica Avenue with State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Michael Miller.
“Small businesses are the backbone of New York City’s economy, and they have borne the brunt of our nation’s recent downturn,” Weiner said. “Helping small business owners get back on their feet should be our number one priority.”
The neighborhoods surveyed include shopping strips in Rockaway, Rego Park, Flushing, Woodhaven, Forest Hills, Jamaica, Sunnyside, Astoria, Glendale and Bayside.
According to the study, Woodhaven had the highest vacancy rate, at 20 percent; Flushing had the lowest at 7 percent; and a total of 206 storefronts were closed, averaging 20 closed stores per shopping strip. One stretch of stores on Jamaica Avenue revealed 73 vacant storefronts, more than one in every five stores.
While the study is eye-opening, there still are communities and high-volume shopping areas that are thriving.
In Bayside, from Northern Boulevard to 37th Street on Bell Boulevard, out of approximately 125 storefronts, nine are for sale or rent. Judith Limpert, president of the Bayside Business Association, attributes this to high turnover rates and the reputation of being an elite part of town.
“If landlords would adjust their way of thinking, we could have 100 percent occupancy,” said Limpert, referring to those that hold out on prospective buyers.
To help small business owners that may be struggling, Weiner laid out a five-point plan – some of which have been put in motion by Congress – which include tax breaks for small businesses that offer health insurance and hire unemployed workers, greater access to small business loans, longer grace period for parking shoppers and permit and adjudication vans that would bring city agencies to the businesses.