Two weeks ago Greenpoint resident and local watch repairwoman, Ms. Leokadia Trzaskowska, was sitting at her workbench, like every day for the past 26 years, and had the unimaginable happen. A NYC Marshal stormed into her shop, not get a watch fixed, but to announce that the 77 year old was to leave the premises immediately. With no time to spare, the woman grabbed her purse and watched in confusion as a padlock was put on the door.
For the last 26 years Ms. Trzaskowska has sat in the window of the Sunshine Laundromat tinkering with gears and tiny screws, repairing a lifetime of watches from ending in the up in garbage heaps. All of her specialized tools, her passport, and essentially her life’s work was now being kept under the auspices of a commercial possession.
In the past year covering Greenpoint happenings, I have written about more local businesses closing than I care to remember. A simple peek on Manhattan Avenue shows a smattering of empty store fronts–some shuttered for more than a year—waiting to be taken over by some business with deep enough pockets able to afford a new tier of astronomical rents. Out you go mom and pop. Adios working artists. Sayonara small fry.
Each MONTH an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 NYC small businesses lose their leases due to profiteering rent increases. And as we’ve bared witness, the only ones who can truly afford to occupy these newly priced spaces usually come strapped with shareholders, millions of dollars in equity, and a black bottom line.
In fact, the crisis is so dire, under the Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure 83,211 commercial tenants received eviction notices, an estimated 240,000 small businesses closed, and NYC saw more than 2 million jobs lost.
Real estate speculation is nothing new, but when it finally swoops in like that long lost relative no one ever wanted to deal with, the affect can be devastating as it takes over our lives.
So you might ask: Is there any real way to stop this? The answer is yes, but you have to keep reading to find out how.