The City should view it's tenants as partners - and should do what is in the best interest of both.
Just because someone else will pay more rent for a property does not mean they are the best tenant. They are unproven and don't necessarily have a good business plan. Plus, are they displacing a business that is loved by the community and that loves the community?
The City should look down the road to the possibility of a rent deficit when these highest-rent-paying businesses fail. Then who will take their place? How will the City deal with a shortfall then? Raise taxes of course.
Should the mom-and-pop businesses in this town have to pay a ridiculously high rent because a big box retailer is willing to pay more? I say no way. And who wants big box retailers in Old Town Key West? I do not.
One by one, the City of Key West is squeezing mom-and-pop businesses out, and I am worried that the City is sacrificing the community's character and amenities in the pursuit of maximum rents.
I mention this because the local beloved grocery store The Waterfront Market has been in a protracted lease negotiation (10 months and counting) with the City of Key West. The market is located at the Key West Bight, which has been raising rents through the roof on many businesses, forcing many to shut their doors. The Waterfront Market is a true community resource, supplying fresh fish to local restaurants and citizens, along with the island's most impressive grocery selection.
If the City stays on this course, they may one day lose their stable tenant base. This is a far greater cost than the benefit of temporarily higher paying tenants.
The value of a tenant cannot simply be viewed as the rent he can pay. Instead it is a combination of the value to the community + the rent the business can afford. The Waterfront Market adds a lot of value that isn't reflected in the rent numbers, and the City should recognize this and work with Buco (the owner of the Waterfront Market), view him as a partner, and charge a rent that does not force him out of business.
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