Harlem small businesses are desperately in need of assistance, said the executive director of the Harlem Business Alliance.
Regina Smith said she’s seen more than a dozen area small businesses close up over the last year.
The latest example is Lenox Lounge. The owner, Al Reed, told the Daily News his rent is jumping from $10,000 to $20,000 a month and he can’t afford it. At the end of June, the Harlem fixture could close for good.
“I hate to see him lose it,” said Smith, who grew up in the St. Nicholas Houses and still lives in Harlem.
She said black-owned businesses are also becoming a “rarity” in Harlem, with many businesses “hanging on by their fingertips.”
“Rents are too high, and they’re not coming down,” she said, adding there’s a greater opportunity in launching an online business.
Smith said there’s not much that can be done to help businesses when their rent jumps.
HBA has asked the city for help, but up to now nothing has been done.
Smith said HBA has been working with small-business owners, referring them to nonprofits that offer more affordable rental properties.
West Harlem Group Assistance, Abyssinian Development Corp. and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement are among the nonprofits HBA works closely with, she said.
As for the landlords who have hiked up the rents, Smith said: “They really don’t have the community’s best interest at heart.”