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Bedrock suspends rent for its small business tenants for three months

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And other ways landlords, local government, and businesses are getting creative to sustain retail through the COVID-19 outbreak

Outside the front entrance to a brick white stone building. Above the entrance says “Library Street Collective.” Photo by Michelle Gerard

Bedrock Detroit, one of the largest commercial landlords in the city, is waiving rent and expenses for all its small business tenants for the next three months (April, May, and June).

The decision was made in response to numerous executive orders and public safety measures instituted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including shutting down all restaurants and bars for dine-in service, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Without income streams, small businesses would be unable to pay rent.

“It is going to take the entire community to mitigate the effects of this pandemic on the region, and we are happy to do our part to help our portfolio’s most vulnerable businesses weather the storm,” Bedrock CEO Matt Cullen said in a release.

Bedrock says that a business qualifies as “small” based on industry and governmental standards for factors like revenue and number of employees. A spokesperson for Bedrock said that “dozens” of its tenants qualify, declined to specify a specific number.

Cullen told Crain’s Detroit Business that the cost to Bedrock of not collecting rent would be in the “millions.”

A number of other stakeholders have also begun offering resources to small businesses for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, in the hopes of preventing permanent closures and decimation of retail.

The Quicken Loans Community Fund (part of the same family of companies and nonprofits as Bedrock) and TechTown Detroit launched the Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund, which provides capital grants in amounts up to $5,000 to qualifying small businesses.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is offering grants and loans as part of a $20 million small businesses relief program. On the federal level, the Small Business Administration launched a $1 billion loan fund for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Across Detroit, businesses are getting creative to survive. Restaurants, bakeries, and other food businesses are offering takeout services through a city of Detroit Carryout Zone program. Some distillers are converting hardware from making liquor to hand sanitizer. Others, like fitness centers, are providing online versions of their service or renting out their equipment.