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    CHICAGO (WLS) -- The vacancy rate was rising sharply across Chicago's prized downtown district and surrounding neighborhoods before the pandemic, but climbed much faster once COVID-19 struck. It's now more than 26% in Chicago's loop and on the rise in the Michigan Avenue Corridor."Many stores are gone," said downtown shopper SanJay Patmaik.From downtown to the Loop, the Gold Coast and River North, the I-Team found dozens and dozens of for lease and space available signs."A lot of shops are closed down, there's empty places," Patmaik said.That includes shops like the 60,000 square foot Uniqlo store in Streeterville and Macy's in Water Tower Place.The I-Team talked to shoppers in front of the now empty, large retail spaces of a former Gap and a Forever 21."I think maybe another store would come up and see potential in the business and a store would take it over," said Fredrick LaMarr.And despite plenty of potential shoppers, one real estate research group said the Mag Mile has more than a 19% vacancy rate, up from about 11% in 2019."We need to be innovative," said Jack...
    SOUTH SHORE — A proposal to limit the tax breaks landlords receive for their vacant storefronts can bring life back to Chicago’s blighted commercial strips, small business advocates say. The Cook County Assessor’s Office allows tax breaks for vacant commercial properties if the owner “has made good faith efforts to lease [or] rent the property.” For years, chambers of commerce and business leaders in the county have said the rule opens the door for “bad actors” to keep their shops empty. They’ve proposed a county ordinance to cap the frequency a property can receive the vacancy tax break at three times every 10 years. If passed, it would go into effect in January 2023. “We’re sounding the alarm on some of these land-bankers and foreign investors that are taking advantage of marginalized communities,” said Tonya Trice, South Shore Chamber executive director. The tax breaks don’t allow “businesses to open and create jobs — and provide services and amenities — that the residents in these communities need,” Trice said. The push gained the support of the Small Business Advocacy Council, which...
    Mayor Jenny Durkan wants to fill the downtown storefronts that COVID-19 emptied. The proposed ordinance would relax Seattle's permit rules, expanding the range of businesses that can set up shop downtown. They could include medical offices, gyms, art installations and bike parking. In Belltown and Pioneer Square, permitted businesses would also include food processing, horticulture and crafts, which were once limited to the International District. The rule-change applies for 12 months after passage. Businesses who receive a permit during that period may stay indefinitely but not expand operations. "Downtown is Seattle's economic engine and heartbeat, and it's up to us to help it come back better than ever for all those who live, work, or visit," Durkan said. "This temporary change to allow more uses for our storefronts will help restore the vitality of our downtown." Durkan's proposal has received support from Seattle City Council members Dan Strauss and Andrew J. Lewis, who call it a pathway to innovation and new business opportunities. The Seattle City Council has passed numerous reforms in recent months to...
    SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on Tuesday, meaning no more capacity limitations and no more physical distancing rules in businesses across the state. The idea is a return to normal. Only, so many businesses have been shut down and boarded up, and many retail centers still won’t look the same. READ MORE: Heavy Early Morning Traffic Expected To Start Week As Highway 99 Construction Continues At the Arden Fair mall, there are 14 storefronts that remain empty. Now, the mall will turn some of those retail spaces into places for art. The creative solution will add new colors where those storefronts have come down. Huey Lovelady says the artwork can’t replace his favorite shop that left during the pandemic. READ MORE: Sacramento Highway 99 Closure Now In Place: How To Get Around It “No, I want Nordstroms,” he said. “I really liked Nordstroms. It was a great store.” A check of Sacramento city records shows tax revenue generated at the mall was cut in half during the pandemic – from nearly $5 million in 2019 to...
    GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A creative project has opened in Manhattan, where closed stores now stand, with the hope of getting New Yorkers to engage with the art world once again.It can take a toll -- all the empty spaces and the vacant, papered over scars left behind by a year of a deadly pandemic. So many businesses couldn't survive its paralyzing grip.Some see darkness here, but schoolteacher Barbara Anderson saw hope."We wanted to liven up and energize the community and bring art down to the street where they could enjoy it," Anderson said.So, she created Art on the Avenue NYC, where drab, empty Greenwich Village storefronts are transformed into sun-splashed galleries filled with color and art.The initiative was started in June 2020, and first started with nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side.EMBED More News Videos Kemberly Richardson reports nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue have transformed empty storefronts into art galleries where artists can showcase their talents. "I think this is a wonderful way for us to utilize one of those negative or...
    BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Downtown Partnership’s BOOST (Black-Owned and Occupied Storefront Tenancy) Program is accepting applications through March 10 for grants upwards of $50,000. The grant program’s main sponsor, Fearless, is a Baltimore digital services company headquartered at Power Plant Live. READ MORE: University Of Maryland College Park Students Are Supposed To Be Sequestering Due To COVID-19. A Student Says They Arent “How do we help them avoid the pitfalls we went through and really accelerate some of their growth?” Fearless CEO Delali Dzirasa said. “It sends a signal to the city that Baltimore is serious about equity.” The Baltimore Development Corporation estimates about 10 percent of Baltimore businesses with employees are black-owned, accounting for about four percent of total revenue. “Our hope is that these companies will grow, they will thrive, they will be great corporate citizens and really impact the community,” Dzirasa said. “The hustle is there, right? What we might not have is the traditional ‘This is how you structure a business. This is how you run a business. How do you build capacity in the business...
    BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new program hopes to attract more Black-owned businesses to Baltimore’s downtown. The Black-Owned and Occupied Storefront Tenancy program will give up to $50,000 in grants to five Black-owned businesses. It will also give business owners connections to help with marketing, accounting and other needs. The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore said the program will also help fill empty storefronts which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, a recent report found only around 10% of privately-held businesses in the area were Black-owned. To learn more or to apply, click here. Applications are due by March 10. Get alerts from WJZ first! Follow WJZ on Facebook and download the app.
    Dave Portnoy knows what it's like to be a small businessman, which is why he started the "Barstool Fund" to help small business affected by the coronavirus pandemic. "That's why I'm so passionate about it," the Barstool Sports founder and CEO told "Fox News Primetime" host Brian Kilmeade Tuesday. "I mean, Barstool's obviously grown, but I consider it a small business and it's no overnight success. "It took me two decades," he added. "We've been doing it two decades, [and it took 10 years maybe before I turned a profit. If this thing [the pandemic] hit at year 10, you rip away basically my entire adult life's work." Portnoy launched the Barstool Fund last month with $500,000 of his own money. As of Tuesday night, a total of 193,731 donors had contributed more than $27.6 million. "It's about trying to help small business in general," Portnoy told Kilmeade, gesturing toward several eerily empty Midtown eateries. "Obviously, if you walk around New York, which we are doing, you see there's a lot of businesses in trouble or gone. We fast-forward all the way to the end of December, and they closed indoor...
    Even before COVID-19, Montague Street, the central shopping district in Brooklyn Heights, suffered from a high rate of commercial vacancies and turnover. Now, amid the pandemic, empty storefronts are proliferating and residents and businesses are urgently calling for answers to the decades-old question of how to revitalize Montague Street. Local residents can help by taking the BHA’s Montague Street survey. The Brooklyn Eagle’s in-depth report on Montague Street follows.
    UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New Yorkers are coming together to help support artists who have been hit hard financially during the pandemic.Nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue have transformed empty storefronts - forced to shut down because of the pandemic - into art galleries where the artists can showcase their talents."We're really trying to support our small businesses by creating energy and vibrancy in the neighborhood," said Nicole Paynter with Columbus Avenue BID.Barbara Anderson had the idea to fill the shuttered stores with art."Walking up and down the street , it was getting a little bit sad, so many people had left town and more and more stores were closing," Anderson said.ALSO READ | You've seen his work before, now a New York City street artist is revealing his identitySo in June, she created Art on the Ave NYC. And in just 30 days, roughly 200 local artists submitted work.They settled on 27 to feature."For emerging photographers and artists, this is fantastic," said artist Kevin Kinner.Until now, Kinner's photographs have only been in one gallery and at occasional...
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