French Market store owners worry about rent as business continues to stall

Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some French Quarter business owners say they may close for good, if they have to start paying full rent come July.

They say they don't have enough customers to make ends meet.

During a French Market Corporation meeting last week, business owners say they were allowed to apply for rent relief, following certain conditions.

“They talked about giving us rent abatement and forgiving us for the three months that we were closed. What worries me is that the rent they’re asking for to go back to full rent or 50 percent rent is just not logical, it’s not feasible,” N’Awlins Sports Owner Michael Lester said.

In a letter, the corporation stated that in order for businesses to receive the three month rent abatement, tenants are obligated to fulfill their lease agreement come July.

The Little Toy Shop Owner, Alex Gingrow, like many others, say it would be nearly impossible to pay rent with slow to no business.

"If we are required to pay rent based on our sales, absolutely not, no. we can't sustain this at the current sales level if we had to pay full rent," Gingrow said.

Some business owners say paying 8 percent of sales until they recover would help. It’s what some say they were allowed to do after Hurricane Katrina.

“Paperwork that they handed out to us did not include the 8 percent. Basically, that we have to go back to market rent in July, which can’t happen because nobody can survive,” Nola Foot Candy Owner Andre Noujaim said.

"The difference between Katrina and this disaster is Katrina, we had everyone from the outside coming in to help us. Right now, everyone's in the same boat, so who's coming to help us? There are no people to help us," Lester said.

Those who have owned stores in the French Market for decades say they hope to get some clarity soon.

"There are financial decisions we have to make for ourselves and we can't do that until we know what's going to happen, what we're going to owe, whether or not this is a viable business anymore," Gingrow said.

"This is the welcoming mat to New Orleans. This is the hey come see us, come get your beignets, we're open for business. We are the face of new orleans right now, and when you start closing those doors. That face doesn't look good," Lester said.

FOX 8 out to the director of the French Market Corporation who gave no comment at this time.

They are expected to meet again at the end of the month.

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