In the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the state was put on hold. People were asked to avoid crowds and limit their travel, and governments issued stay-at-home orders. The streets of Glen Cove were eerily quiet throughout much of the lockdown, leaving many of the city’s businesses hanging by a thread.
Since then, the state saw an economic rebound and new businesses have started.
To keep current businesses and draw new businesses to the city, a hearing was held at City Hall to discuss implementing a vacant storefront registry on the city’s website. A second hearing will take place at the next City Council meeting Feb. 28.
City attorney Tip Henderson said the storefront registry is to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the city’s residents by “encouraging the rehabilitation and re-occupancy of vacant storefronts in the commercial district.”
Henderson added that vacant storefronts affect the desirability of the immediate and neighboring areas.
According to a statement from the city, one empty storefront on a block can lead to more vacancies and diminished value and appeal of the surrounding commercial area. Small businesses rely on the vibrant commercial corridor to attract customers.
Henderson said it’s in the best interest of the city to encourage owners of vacant store front properties to lease or otherwise utilize such properties in a “productive manner,” rather than allowing them to remain vacant.
City officials hope a registry specifically geared toward naming all vacant storefronts will
serve to drive economic development by helping potential small business owners access information about vacant storefront locations. As part of the registration process, the city will provide signage that lists contact information of landlords who own commercial buildings which will be placed in front of vacant stores.
The executive director of the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District, Patricia Holman, said the city notified her of the potential registry, but she wasn’t given enough advanced notice to discuss it with the BID’s property owners before the first hearing at City Hall. She received information about the first hearing around 10:15 a.m. on Feb. 10 and sent out an email to commercial property owners an hour later.
“What we will do between now and the next hearing is contact our property owners and discuss it with them and then we plan to present on the 28th how our property owners feel about this,” Holman said.
Holman said that the BID already keeps an inventory of store vacancies on the BID’s website. She declined to comment on whether she thought a registry would be helpful, but did say she saw pros and cons. Holman said she wanted to hear from property owners within the BID first to gauge their thoughts on the matter to best represent them at City Hall.
Some business owners feel this registry is unnecessary and worry about the potential costs of registration, which are not yet determined by the city.
Commercial property owner Paul Canarick expressed concern at the Feb. 14 council meeting that the city is crossing a boundary and feels government should be limited as much as possible from interfering with the city’s businesses.
“I find it basically appalling that you need to pass something like this when we already have a BID,” Canarick said.
He added that the city’s resources and attention should be directed more toward its infrastructure.
“If someone came around to see what’s going on in Glen Cove, what they would see is a deterioration of infrastructure,” Canarick said. “The streets are falling apart, the curbs are deplorable, the streets are deplorable and the sidewalks are deplorable.”
Canarick also cited his personal experience walking through the city’s parking garage, saying that when he walks around the edges, he sees pieces of concrete falling from the ceiling.
Property owner John Perrone isn’t entirely against the registry. Perrone said he might be for the list if he knew for certain there wouldn’t be a fee.
If the online registry passes, property owners will have 30 to 60 days of a vacancy to register and complete paperwork with the city’s building department. Although an exact fee, if any, hasn’t been determined officials say they are discussing a monthly or annual registration fee.