By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Does Assemblyman Dov Hikind have something to say about the large number of financial institutions setting up shop on Borough Park’s 13th Avenue? You can bank on it!
Hikind (D-Borough Park) said there are too many banks on the avenue and that something should be done about it.
Hikind charged that the proliferation of banks – 17 within a 10-block stretch of the avenue – is hurting mom and pop businesses on the commercial strip. The banks drive neighborhood rents up, he charged.
“It’s hurting our community. Small store owners, people whose family businesses have served residents for generations, can no longer afford the rent,” Hikind said.
“There’s already 17 banks in a ten-block span and an 18th one plans to open. That’s plenty,” he said.
Hikind is so annoyed at the moneymen taking over his community that he has posted pictures of all nearly all of the banks on his blog to show just how many there are.
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 assemblyman said. The result has been a steady increase on rents that has already driven out a number of local merchants; left store fronts vacant, and threatens to change the character of the neighborhood, according to Hikind.
Two businesses, Kosher Delight and Donut Man, are among the many small, local businesses that were part of the neighborhood for many years but have recently closed due to an inability to meet rising rent demands, Hikind said. The website yeahthatskosher.com reported on the demise of Kosher Delight.
“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,” Hikind said.
Last June, the City Council approved a zoning change aimed at limiting the frontage of commercial establishments along major commercial avenues on the 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 Borough Park is much greater, according to Hikind, who said he has reached out to council members David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Bensonhurst) and Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) to push a similar zoning change for Borough Park. He also plans to reach out to the Department of City Planning, he said.
“In the interests of this community and its residents, I intend to work with elected officials and City Planning to implement these changes,” Hikind said. “During these difficult economic times, it’s important to keep prices reasonable.”