Three owners say rent hikes too much to absorb

Lunchtime was business as usual on Wednesday (Jan. 4) at Roma Nova, a pizzeria and Mexican restaurant on Eliza Street in Beacon, a half-block from Main Street. A steady stream of customers — some speaking Spanish, others placing their orders in English — strolled into the two-room café.

Ana Tapia, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Miguel, stood behind a counter, taking orders. As customers picked up their food, husband and wife took turns spreading tomato sauce and cheese before popping fresh pizzas into industrial-sized ovens. In the next room, a single employee, Carlos Pena, cleaned the kitchen.

Roma Nova, which has been in Beacon for 28 years, announced last month that it would be closing at the end of January. Along with Batt’s Florist and the Beacon Barber Shop, the restaurant is one of a trio of longtime businesses being upended, the owners say, because of rent spikes after their building was purchased last year.

According to Dutchess County records, in March a limited-liability corporation called BH Beacon bought the single-story, brick structure at 340 Main St. for $2.3 million. Amanda Hurn, who owns Batt’s, said that Robert Arzanipour, the founder of the Rockridge Group, a Long Island-based luxury development firm, introduced himself last year as the building’s new owner.

Asked about his plans for the building, Arzanipour said by email that some Beacon businesses, including existing tenants, as well as companies outside of the Hudson Valley, have expressed interest in the spaces. “They seem to find the location and quality of the building very attractive,” he wrote.

Hurn, who purchased Batt’s in September, is not among them. She said she cannot afford Arzanipour’s rent — $3,300 per month under a new lease agreement, nearly triple the $1,200 she had been paying.

Ana and Miguel Tapia said their lease agreement included a rent hike to $3,100 per month, from $1,800. Batt’s and Roma Nova were also each told that they would be required to pay 10 percent of what the agreement called “CAM costs,” or the new landlord’s common area operation and maintenance costs — which includes utilities, taxes, insurance, repair and replacement costs, signage and lighting, trash and snow and ice removal, sidewalk maintenance and a “common media fund” for the building.

Although the landlord offered the Tapias a five-year lease, with additional rent increases written in for each year, Miguel said the firm brought prospective tenants in to tour the space, as well.

“It was like they were playing games with us,” Miguel said. The Tapias said they cannot afford the new terms and will close Jan. 28. The couple, who live in Beacon, say they would like to relocate to another space in the city, “but there’s nothing around,” Miguel said. The restaurant equipment will either be stored or sold.

Carlos Pena has worked at Roma Nova for 20 years.
Carlos Pena has worked at Roma Nova for 20 years.

Vincent Melfi, the owner of the Beacon Barber Shop, said he plans to move to Hyde Park, about 20 miles up Route 9. He declined to discuss his lease offer, but said “it’s more than I can afford.” He said his site in Hyde Park, where he lives, will be $1,900 less per month than it would have cost to stay in Beacon.

Melfi has also been in Beacon for 28 years. He plans to close Jan. 14 so he will have two weeks to move his equipment.

He expects “well over 200” customers to follow him to Hyde Park. “A lot of [Beacon] people are feeling bad, but the people in Hyde Park are excited to be getting me,” he said this week. “I’m going to be OK. In six months to a year, I’ll be right back where I was.”

There are no mechanisms, such as rent control or stabilization, that regulate commercial rents in Beacon. In New York City, lawmakers in 2021 considered limits on rent increases on small commercial spaces, but the bill died in committee.

For Carlos Pena, the 36-year-old Roma Nova employee who has worked for the Tapias for 20 years, the future is uncertain.

“If you stop and think about it, it’s like, ‘What the hell am I going to do?’ ” he said. “To be honest, I really don’t know.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

11 replies on “Beacon Businesses in Jeopardy”

  1. I was afraid of this. All the charming old stores in Beacon will close and the beauty of the Beacon that was will be no more. Everything is about money as Beacon turns into just another Westchester, upper-class, overpriced community.

  2. All it would take to slow and even stop this kind of takeover is to enforce parking regulations. Where will the new tenant/customers park? The new owner may soon ask for variance to build three stories up on the existing property, so the investment can make money. The city will act surprised and then agree that it would be unfair if the new owners (millionaires) can’t make money unless they expand up with affordable ($2,800/mo.) apartments, with no parking. Try and make your house a two-family in Beacon, the regulations on parking makes it nearly impossible. Of course, you could tell them you’re a millionaire and it would be a burden and unfair if you were not to be treated as such.

  3. I’ve known for a while that the owners of Roma Nova, one of my favorite Beacon restaurants, for many years (their Mexican food, as we old Beaconites know, is freshly prepared and truly delicious) wanted to sell and retire, and I hoped for their sake they’d be able to, but who the heck wants to pay these ridiculous rents?

    If the City Council doesn’t enact some measures to help small business stay in business, I’m afraid we will lose a great deal of the charm and family businesses for which we were known. I don’t want us to turn into Scarsdale, but it looks like that is precisely where we are headed. That building is not worth the high price paid; only big chain stores, swanky shops and real-estate agents will now be able to afford that rent, not families trying to make a living.

    As for the Tapias, Vincent and Amanda, I wish them all the very best. You were a terrific and wonderful part of our community, and I’m so sorry you have to leave this way.

  4. Because I dearly want to be a good neighbor, I feel compelled to try and clarify some of the misleading reporting and misunderstandings about my purchase of 340 Main St., the building on the corner of Eliza Street, with Roma Nova and others as its tenants.

    The short answer is I intended to keep all of the existing tenants. But as everyone knows, the real estate market has changed dramatically over the past several years. I paid a substantial market-rate price for a building in a prime location, $2.3 million, and then invested significantly more to update its decaying facade and operating systems. In turn, I need to charge market-rate rents to afford the more than doubling of the real estate taxes, the debt service and the operating costs. The un-fortunate aspect of this scenario is that tenants who were paying an extreme under-market-rate rent for years, now need to pay rents that are set by the market.

    I truly appreciate the history and tradition the current tenants have at the building, and I understand it’s not an ideal situation. Whether I purchased the building, or it was someone else, this difficult situation was bound to come to fruition, but my goal is, and continues to be, to work with as many local business operators and professionals as I can.

    Unfortunately, it did not go reported that I offered to assist moving Roma Nova from their side-street location into a prime Main Street unit within the building, and with healthy landlord concessions in order to make the move. I really wanted them to stay as I, too, am very fond of Ana, Miguel and Carlos, who run the business. We became very friendly when I was renovating the building with my own two hands this past summer. They declined the opportunity, as they already mentioned, multiple times, and as evidenced by the for-sale ads, that they were looking to retire and sell the business.

    With regard to Batt Florist and the new owner, Amanda Hurn, I was excited to rent her the space once the current lease expired. She was on board with the rent we discussed, which was not triple the current rent, as reported by The Current. Although I made a valiant effort, Amanda has never been able to provide financials or proof of credit in order to move forward in renting the space.

    The partners of Antalek and Moore, the previous owners, were set to re-rent another space in the building, but instead found an opportunity to purchase another property.

    Finally, Vincent, the barber at 2 Eliza St., whom I have a great respect for: I wish Vincent could have stayed, but the “extreme” below-market rent he was paying was too far a bridge to current market rents, and sadly he is leaving. I am happy he has found a new space in Hyde Park, where I only wish him the best in his new location.

    I am looking to become part of the fabric of the community, and I don’t wish to hide nor be an absentee landlord. I have been a custom homebuilder for the past 30 years, and I worked really hard to make this dream come true in purchasing my first real estate investment. I look forward to partnering with local businesses and artists to make 340 Main St. one of the many special buildings that dot Beacon’s beautiful Main Street.

    1. To clarify, reporter Jeff Simms emailed Arzanipour before the publication of the story, telling him that he was “writing about the businesses that are leaving the space and wondering if you have new tenants or any plans lined up.” Arzanipour responded with the statement that we quoted in the article but did not reply to a follow-up email or return a voicemail message left at the phone number listed on his business card. In addition, we reported that the rent Arzanipour offered to Batt’s Florist ($3,300 per month) is “nearly triple” what the business had been paying ($1,200 per month).

  5. The condition of the “market” is no excuse to hit tenants with terms that make renting unsustainable. No one is forced to own a multimillion-dollar property. Ownership contingent on expelling some of the few storefronts geared toward Beacon residents of all classes (not just visitors) is the furthest thing from neighborly. In the future, I hope regulation can prevent speculators from depleting Beacon’s stock of affordable, accessible businesses.

  6. This is heartbreaking. Beacon is the city that it is because of people like Miguel and Ana Tapia of Roma Nova. I wonder what the leadership of our city is doing about this. [via Instagram]

  7. This is why I buy, not rent. Own the building and no one can ever move you from your property. [via Instagram]

  8. The part the developer is missing is when you want to partner with “local businesses,” you can’t kick out all the local businesses. What locals does he plan to partner with? The ones who moved in a year ago, like him? His friends? I’m fine with new businesses and people, but keep my old ones, too. [via Instagram]

  9. Aren’t landlords only supposed to be able to raise the rent 3 percent to 5 percent, with two months’ notice? How is a 50 percent hike possible? [via Instagram]

Comments are closed.