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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Thursday, October 19, 2017

The mass closure of Manhattan restaurants and stores has prompted protests from business owners over a commercial rent tax on business tenants with a rent of over $250,000 a year. In a report this month, the NY Times noted that Manhattan has lost many iconic restaurants, including Greenwich Village café French Roast, Republic, and Blue Water Grill. The restaurants, many of which were neighborhood fixtures, have been forced to close down or relocate due to skyrocketing rent. A 2016 Food Republic report cited Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, who said the closings were, at least partly, a result of “intense competition and the challenging regulatory environment.”

Steps to alleviate the commercial rent tax were taken this year when the New York City Council, in a move led by NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick and others, suggested raising the tax on business tenants to those with a rent of $500,000 a year, rather than $250,000, as the NY Times noted in its report. The report also noted that the tax was originally created in 1963 to generate revenue when NYC was nearing the constitutional limit allowed for property taxes. Unfortunately, Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to include the proposed measure, which would cost NYC in the ballpark $55 million, in his most recent budget.  

In an interview published this month on, Martha Stark, the policy director for Tax Equity Now NY, weighed in on the background of the commercial rent tax which many businesses are finding oppressive in the current climate.  

“In Manhattan, commercial properties have a property tax and a commercial rent tax that gets paid by tenants and such,” Stark explained, “The commercial rent tax was implemented when the city bumped up against its property tax limit. There is a cap on how much tax revenue the city can raise from the property tax.”

“Manhattan rents, especially in Midtown, were at $100 dollars which is also two and a half to three times what the average was around the rest of the country,” she added. “But Manhattan is the place to be.”

Commenting on the closure of French Roast, which brought a bohemian ambience to the area, the Times Gina Bellafante wrote that “we are at the point now that we mourn the loss of even those places, which years ago may have spurred debates about inauthenticity and fears of dull professional-class invasion.” 

By: Max Rozwaski