Back to NYnightlife – When Frank Sinatra sang “Start spreading the news,” he knew where the heart and soul of the city and the world was – and is – and that’s New York, New York. And after two too too long long years, NY’s nightlife is back. And Tudor City Steakhouse, in its eponymous setting overlooking the East River, is bringing it on with the legendary Phoebe Legere who will be in residence and hitting the ivory on Saturday nights from 7 to 11 p.m. and singing the Great American Songbook from Bowie to Berlin to Broadway. And beyond. If you’re a music lover, love a really good steak and fine dining Saturday nights at the steakhouse is the place to be. And Legere’s an all-around talent that goes beyond the keyboard. She paints. She writes original songs and plays. She’s philanthropic which includes bringing free art and music to children of low-income communities of color. And the Conductor and Music Director of the Lower East Side Children’s Chorus and her educational children’s TV show “The Color Wheel” through her foundation, www.foundationfornewamericanartorg. Welcome back nightlife and Phoebe Legere at Tudor City Steakhouse.
Empty storefront affronts In response to my column describing the consequences to Forever Simon’s Jewelry on Third Ave. in the 90s and other businesses because of landlords requiring unconscionable rents for renewals and keeping storefronts empty, readers in the Our Town area – from StuyTown, Midtown Wast, and Yorkville, had this to say:
From Mike Shatzkin, Midtown East: My understanding of the empty storefront problem, now in my 50th year as a resident of Midtown East, is that it is exacerbated by tax laws that make it much more profitable for landlords to keep places vacant. It is much more than that “they don’t have to collect rent.”
I believe that they are allowed to deduct the aspirational rent from their taxes. So they might have a choice, say, of renting a place for $2,000 a month or writing off a rent they can’t get of $10,000 a month. And then they make more money NOT renting than renting by virtue of reducing their tax liability by more than the net profit they’d make on the rent. As I grasp the reality, that is the problem. The tax laws actually provide a disincentive to rent.
What we have to do is tax vacant storefronts. That would really address the problem. NYC street life depends on storefronts being occupied. Landlords should be incentivized to keep them occupied. And disincentivized from allowing them to be vacant. The opposite is the case today.
It would also be nice if Federal tax laws limited the amount of “lost rent” an investor could deduct to what they’d actually received in the past. That would lead to a system that would be much more honest. But New York City can’t fix that. New York City can tax empty storefronts.
From Hazel Feldman, Stuyvesant Town, lightly edited: Countless empty businesses are visible in all neighborhoods. It seems as if every day another store or restaurant is gone; no fanfare, nothing. Very sad indeed. Also, dangerous - these empty spots become havens for homeless folks to huddle with boxes and blankets becoming makeshift walls of protections.
From Frank Wilkinson, Yorkville: On my block York Grill closed because of a rent hike and the space stayed empty for years.