Gothamist Vacant Storefronts Proliferate in NYC, And It’s No Easier To Identify Owners by Beth Fertig
Taking a walk along Third Avenue in the 80s and 90s near his home, City Councilman Ben Kallos points to one empty storefront after another and recalls some of his favorite Upper East Side shops and restaurants.
“This was an amazing steakhouse,” said the Manhattan native, referring to a place on the west side of the avenue. Across the street was a Modell’s Sporting Goods; he also sees a former taco place and a storefront with a red awning that used to be Pesce Pasta. “It was a great place for an Italian lunch and it's been vacant for a number of years,” he said.
Empty storefronts were a blight on the city long before the coronavirus pandemic forced so many restaurants and other businesses to close. Now, with thousands more businesses shuttered for good, including big chains, Kallos has introduced new legislation aimed at pressuring anonymous building owners to accept new tenants by naming them. His bill would also enable the city to collect tens of millions of dollars in unpaid fines.