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West Side Market Vendors Get 3 Months Rent Forgiveness

West Side Market vendors will not have to pay back rent that was suspended in April, May and June in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of Cleveland announced Wednesday it would forgive those rent payments.

Many vendors paid rent for those months despite the city’s suspension, said Don Whitaker, owner of DW Whitaker Meats. Others who did skip payments, he said, may have had trouble paying it back later.

“It will definitely help some tenants down there,” Whitaker said. “The restaurants, the prepared food, those type of businesses are struggling.”

The market has adapted to the changes put in place during the pandemic, Whitaker said, including offering curbside pickup and space for social distancing, and the moves have helped keep businesses going.

Kate’s Fish was closed for a month, said owner Tom McIntyre, and many other vendors have been closed far longer. McIntyre doesn’t see how the city could have charged vendors for those three months, he said.

“It’s really great that the city did that, but what else were they going to do?” McIntyre said. “Go back and say, ‘Hey, you owe us for three months of rent when you were closed?’”

Business at the market has been “decent” in recent months, McIntyre said, and his stall is doing well. But some vendors are struggling.

In a press release from Mayor Frank Jackson’s office, the city said it valued its relationship with tenants and is encouraging residents to patronize the historic market.

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