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Should Landlords Be Forced to Cut Stores Some Slack on Rent?

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If an overpriced bodega can be a neighborhood institution, then Bedford Avenue's Deli Mart was certainly that. It just shuttered after 25 years following two massive rent hikes. Down the block, another Williamsburg favorite, the Bagel Store, might be replaced with a Starbucks next year due to its own whopper of a rent increase. It is against this backdrop of Williamsburg's surging retail rents (curse you, Duane Reade!) that The Brooklyn Ink takes a look at an interesting debate: Should commercial tenants receive rent protections from landlords? So far, according to elected officials and maybe even the Constitution, the answer appears to be no.

A controversial bill called the Small Business Survival Act was brought to the City Council last year, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn refused to bring it to a vote, saying the law violated property rights. (Mayor Bloomberg also opposed the bill.) Basically it called for a binding arbitration hearing if a landlord attempts to raise the rent on a commercial lease by more than three percent and the tenant objects. Not quite rent stabilization, but hey, that could keep a few art galleries in business. Despite the hurdles, the bill had support, and Councilman Robert Jackson said he'll bring a revised version back in 2011, even if it will likely result in defeat. In other words: Will that be grande or venti?
· As Small Businesses Move From Bedford Avenue, City Council Works On Rent Controls [The Brooklyn Ink]