Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is hoping to put a halt to banks opening new branches on Boro Park’s Thirteenth Avenue, an initiative supported by Council Members David Greenfield and Brad Lander.
Over the last few years, an increasing number of banking chains have secured real estate or long leases on an avenue that otherwise caters to a neighborhood community of local shoppers. The result has been a steady increase in rents that has already driven out a number of local merchants, left storefronts vacant, and threatens to change the character of the neighborhood.
“It’s hurting our community,” said the Assemblyman. “Small store owners — people whose family businesses have served residents for generations — can no longer afford the rent. There are already 17 banks in a ten-block span and an 18th bank plans to open. That’s plenty. “Increased rent doesn’t just drive local merchants out of business — it impacts the ones who can weather the increase but at a huge cost to the residents here. When rents go up, so do prices. Our community members are paying a heavy toll for these banks.
“I’ve already reached out to NYC Council Members David Greenfield and Brad Lander who enthusiastically support this effort, as does Yidel Perlstein, Chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 12.”
The Assemblyman says that it’s clear that rents have increased on 13th Avenue and consumer prices with them. Kosher Delight and Donut Man are among the many small, local businesses that were part of the neighborhood for many years, but have recently disappeared from the landscape due to an inability to meet rising rent demands.
Simultaneously, additional banks have targeted 13th Avenue as a desired home for a new branch.
Last June, the New York City Council approved a zoning change aimed at limiting the frontage of commercial establishments along major commercial avenues on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The new rules, which were approved by a Council vote of 49 to 2, were a response to approximately 30 banks spanning 89 blocks. The density of banks per block along 13th Avenue in Boro Park is much greater.
“In the interests of this community and its residents, I intend to work with elected officials and City Planning to implement these changes,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “During these difficult economic times, it’s important to keep prices reasonable.”