He is calling for a 150% current or future tax credit for landlords who extend short-term leases. 

It’s one of more than 40 ideas that experts, including small-business advocates, restaurateurs, architects and policymakers, suggested in a Center for an Urban Future report on how restaurants can survive the winter months. The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic; nearly 90% of eateries could not cover their full rent in August.

Much of the city has reopened, but eateries are restricted to operating their indoor premises at a maximum of 25% capacity, drastically limiting their ways of making money. To help restaurants, the city has allowed for year-round outdoor dining, which was popular during the summer but carries logistical issues as temperatures drop.

“In the winter, the investment will only be bigger if we want to continue to expand the urban life onto the streets,” said Jing Liu, principal at architectural and design firm SO-IL in Downtown Brooklyn. “I would like to see a combination of simple greenhouse construction and street-closure programs to make some streets into temporary arcades, like in many European and Australian cities.” His proposal would set up outdoor eating structures on entire streets, rather than on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis.

The CUF report, published Thursday, identified five general areas for action: utilizing vacant storefronts, winterizing outdoor spaces, changing regulations around public spaces, enlisting other city industries for help; and providing microgrants and technical aid to help restaurants transition to new ways of doing business. 

Multiple experts said the city should roll back regulations in order to allow businesses to make use of vacant storefronts. Several of the experts said restaurants serving diners outdoors should band together to come up with structures instead of each endeavoring on their own.

MBA students and marketing and design professionals could offer pro bono services to businesses that have not gone online yet, said Joyce Moy, executive director of the City University of New York’s Asian American and Asian Research Institute.

Andrew Manshel, assistant commissioner at the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, said the city should commission lighting designers to illuminated commercial streets, encouraging foot traffic.

You can read the rest of the suggestions here.

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