French Market business owners may shutter if they don’t receive rent relief from the city

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 10:23 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some French Market business owners worry they'll have to shutter indefinitely if expected to pay full rent by October.

"We're trying to hang in there, we're trying to hold onto our family business that we've had for 19 years, but people aren't coming in the door, they're not coming to the French Quarter," Muse Inspired Fashion Owner Lisa Doss said.

During a French Market Corporation meeting, board members agreed to defer commercial rent for the city owned buildings until October.

“What big of a catastrophe is the city looking at if I don’t pay my rent, the toy store doesn’t pay their rent. Several other people have said look, we’ve ran out of money, and we were hoping that we were gonna be able to stay, but if not, we’re not going to pay our rent,” N’Awlins Sports Owner Michael Lester said.

Some say deferred rent won't help.

"If you look outside you can see. There hasn't even been a single person that walked here in this store today, so having multiple zero days myself and the rest of us, it's impossible for any one of us to sustain," Nola Foot Candy Owner Andre Noujaim said.

He, along with other business owners say they want to either pay a percentage of rent, or sales until business picks up again.

“They own 8 percent of our business, and we are happy to share the wealth with them. When there is no wealth coming in, we are simply just asking to pay a percentage of what we actually make, if we make anything,” Noujaim said.

Business owners say the city offered a rent relief program for three months in the beginning of the pandemic with some terms.

"We're not allowed to take any sort of legal action if in the future we feel like we cannot pay due to lack of business, we are forced to adhere to our lease," Little Toy Shops Owner Alex Gingrow said.

Lester said he may look at moving his business from the French Quarter.

"I'm going to have to weigh my other options like I said, because you have other places that are having traffic, like I said the Tanger Outlet Mall, the Gulfport Outlet Mall. Other places that their high traffic areas or shopping centers that they're offering percentage rent," Lester said.

Others say they'll have to close if forced to pay full rent come October.

"There are some really tough decisions that are gonna get made, and we don't really have the luxury of time or information. Everyone's just taking a best guess at what's going to happen next," Gingrow said.

"I don't know what to do. nobody knows the future," Doss said.

FOX 8 reached out to the French Market Corporation who did not want to comment, but said they will revisit this in September.

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