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Local shops seek hope, financial support amid pandemic

Posted at 1:14 AM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 01:14:38-04

MANHATTAN — Small businesses are the backbone of the city, but like so many parts of the local economy, they’re suffering because of the pandemic.

They’re all about the shine and polish at Andrade Shoe Repair along Second Avenue at East 38th Street in Manhattan.

But things have been rough the past six months.

Owner Carmen Arias said Thursday she hasn’t seen these conditions in 31 years.

“Summer is usually slow. We have to wait and see after Labor Day. All we can do is hope,” she said.

September is make or break for many places. Earlier relief packages from the federal government have been distributed.

The rent is one of main worries for commercial and residential tenants.

William Mack, partner in the New York office of Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron, focuses his practice on commercial litigation and arbitration.

The impact of the virus has become a central point of discussion when he speaks with landlords or their legal counsel on behalf of businesses.

”In the vast majority of these cases, we have been able to secure settlements and restructuring of the commercial leases for the client,” he said.

Leases can be extended and the parties can agree to payment plans.

The legal argument is that terms change when state and city officially rule a business can’t operate. Sometimes the cases are ending up in court.

New York City Council passed four additional bills Thursday as part of the small business assistance package.

They voted on legislation requiring the Department of Small Business Services to report on businesses that received a grant or loan from the NYC Employee Retention Program or New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund.

The grants were created in response to the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. Council said this will help determine if the grants were distributed equitably across the city.

Another bill restores funding for the Commercial Lease Assistance Program. It provides lease-related assistance and counseling for small business tenants and can also include “in-court” legal representation for tenancy issues.

Congress and the Trump administration are attempting to restart talks on a second relief bill for businesses, workers, the states.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress is not willing to lower the amount of the package and the White House Chief of Staff is not willing to increase it, as of now.