We Talked to Schumer’s People

By David Helbraun
on April 21, 2020 in

Excuse me… are you in line?

Dear HL Clients,

I’ll happily stand on a line (not for eggs) if I know how fast it’s moving and if I know that I will be able to get what I want when they call my number.  If we didn’t get approved for our PPP loan, are we in line now and are we guaranteed to get our money before they run out again?  Who can answer these questions for us?  Also, if Congress knows how many applications are pending, did they request enough funds for everyone?  Chuck and our dearly elected don’t seem to know, so who does?

The House is set to approve the new funding package on Thursday, then to Mr. Trump for his loopy signature and then the money should become available Friday.  Is there anything we should be doing now to prepare for this next round? We are working to get answers to these questions and will share with you what we find out. 

Joey Regs talks to Schumer’s camp and Says:

It’s hard to have faith in the process, and it’s hard to believe that our elected officials are actually working FOR you at times like these.  But it is definitely reassuring when you do actually hear from them; and refreshing when they know what our actual issues really are and that maybe they’re not quite as detached as we thought after all – some of them anyway.

Today, I had the pleasure of being part of a small, intimate conference call with Senator Schumer’s team.  It was Schumer’s crew, and a few solid representatives of the hospitality industry in NYC.  We all voiced our positions, concerns, grievances and pleas for a better tomorrow.  They listened, they were empathetic and they are truly busting their asses to make positive change for us specifically.  That really came across on the call.  Please see some highlights below, and thank you to my friend, D.R. for making sure that I was a part of this.

– They know that the PPP is NOT perfect – especially for our industry and they’re trying to do more/better;

– As this was a Republican-drafted bill, Democrats can’t necessarily make broad, sweeping wholesale changes to it in this political climate.  They must babystep their way, as to not offend the other side of the aisle (this goes both ways and is not intended to be a political statement).

– They are actively pursuing other additional options to assist small businesses, such as working with insurance companies re: business interruption insurance claims and whether there’s an avenue to use that as a vehicle to get money to those that needs it quicker; some form of bank/mortgage/rent control/relief/etc.

– One of Schumer’s people who is actively working on this and who is constantly in the Senator’s ear, is actually a restaurant owner!  She’s beating the same drum that we are.  So the message is getting there, there are just tons of roadblocks at the moment.

I also asked some technical questions about the PPP program.  And it turns out, with respect to the foggy (at best) guidance re: PPP, the truth of the matter is, the SBA doesn’t even fucking know how to intepret things yet!  The guidance was left intentionally vague and open to interpretation, because they haven’t actually taken a firm position on a number of issues yet.  Can you fucking believe this?  Schumer’s camp is also pissed.

Chief among the open items is the 75% trigger. – you know, arguably the single most critical factor of the whole fucking program.  Schumer, and the Democrats were under the assumption, when they agreed to the program, that it was NOT a 75% trigger to qualify you for any forgiveness whatsoever.  They did agree to 75% as a guideline and marker by which forgiveness would be given, but never did they conceive that if you didn’t spend 75% of loan proceeds on payroll you could risk having no part of the loan forgiven.  The Republicans had a different interpretation, and in the haste to get this thing out the door, they never settled this point.  SO, the reality is, the SBA has not actually made a hard determination on this fact yet.  They have indicated that they will, when they release guidelines for filing your forgiveness package. Ya know, whenever they get around to it.  So stay tuned on more info there, as we are obviously tracking this like hawks.

Joey Regs Out

WEBINAR UPDATE

Due to tremendous interest in our Landlord/Tenant Summit Webinar: Peace on the Lower East we have changed the date so we can make the webbie look pretty and try some things out before the show. 

The new date is: Tuesday, April 28th at 1:00. If you already registered, you’re good. If you haven’t,  Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YjohamXVS2WDHxNECtKLgg

I’m excited to announce that my guests will be James Wacht and John Fraser.  

James Wacht is a NYC landlord, broker, lawyer and entrepreneur.  A quad threat.  He is the principal owner and president of Lee & Associates NYC LLC a full-service commercial real estate company representing both property owners and tenants.  He also owns many commercial properties and is a landlord himself.   He understands all sides of the landlord’s plight from their relationships with banks, the economics of leases, and strategies landlords employ in times of crisis.

John Fraser is a long-time NYC restaurateur, HL client and the owner of John Fraser Restaurant Group. He has opened and operated Dovetail, Nix, The Loyal, 701 West in the Times Square Edition, Narcissa, What Happens When and others.  He has been in the trenches with his own landlords and knows his way around leases, restaurant economics and the commercial rental world in NYC.

Together, we are going to try to understand one another and then discuss the future of retail leases in NYC and come up with solutions to the vexing problems facing all of us when it comes to leases and rents. Lord knows none of us have time to burn, so we are going to get in the weeds and try to figure some shit out.

If you have questions that you would like covered, feel free to send them to me at david@helbraunlevey.com.  If they are relevant and I can use them, I promise I will.  There will be a Q&A at the end of the program as well.

UPDATE: Business Interruption Insurance Claims by Joe Taylor

We assume by now that you have filed your claim and, if you have not, open a new tab on your internet browser and go ahead and take care of that. If you have questions, or difficulty filing, reach out to your broker, or contact us.  

Just because you have been told your claim will be denied because the virus does not cause physical damage, or because your policy has a virus exclusion, does not mean filing a claim is useless. In fact, it is vital that you file your claims.

Approximately 22 lawsuits have been filed relating to the denial of a business interruption claim and there is a growing chorus seeking government intervention to ensure that all business interruption claims are honored, including those that are subject to a virus exclusion. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and New York have introduced bills that would require insurers to retroactively cover all COVID-19 related business interruption claims.

Groups like BIG (www.werbig.org) are urging the federal government to intervene as well. In fact, a draft bill has been circulating through Congress that would essentially provide the insurance industry with federal funds to payout pandemic related business interruption claims. However, there are two serious issues that we want to highlight regarding this draft bill: (1) the insurance industry is actively working to prevent backdating of the bill so that it would not cover COVID-19 related business interruption claims; and (2) as written, the federal funds would not become available until the insurance industry’s losses exceeds $250 million.

THIS is why everyone must file their business interruption claims and why everyone must reach out to their local, state, and federal representatives and demand they take action to ensure coverage for all COVID-19 related business interruption claims. Let them know how important it is to protect the restaurant industry and the millions of jobs it provides and remind them that we need this coverage NOW.

We want to hear from you if your BI claim has been denied, especially if your policy does not have a virus exclusion. The more information we have, the better position we are in to determine the next steps. Please feel free to reach out to me at joe.taylor@helbraunlevey.com.

Killer viruses. Tornados. Conspiracy theorists.  I swear if a goddamn UFO landed in Prospect Park it would not totally surprise me.  In fact, I’m gonna go make some mashed potatoes and dream of a close encounter that will beam me out of my apartment and into a Manhattan nightclub circa 1987.

Good night,
David

Written By David Helbraun
David Helbraun is the Founding Partner and Chairman of the firm. He is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses in New York City for years.

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