Storefront Vacant Report reveals NYC is in a retail leasing crisis

The Department of City Planning’s recent Storefront Vacancy Report brought rare clarity to the city’s retail leasing picture — a situation which many, Realty Check included, has called a crisis.

As DCP Director Marisa Lago put it, the research shows that “the reasons for storefront vacancies are complex and varied.”

In not allocating blame solely to greedy landlords demanding unaffordable rents, her report was a dramatic break with the views of many elected officials and city agency heads.

The study of 24 areas comprising 10,000 storefronts found that the city’s average retail vacancy rate jumped to 9 percent from 7.6 percent in 2008 to 2009.

If 9 percent seems low, it’s important to note that the DCP survey included data from all five boroughs — including in neighborhoods where empty stores are relatively scarce.

Vacancies in bustling Jackson Heights, for example, were a scant 5.1 percent.

Such strong retail districts offset the highly visible dark storefronts on, for example, parts of Canal Street and Broadway in the West 50s.

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