UPDATE OCTOBER 23, 2014 1:55PM: BARNES & NOBLES STAYING IN THE BRONX AS AN EXTENDED 2 YEAR LEASE HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED!
Imagine a borough of over 1.4 million people without a single book store.
We keep hearing our Borough President mentioning The “New” Bronx when he talks about all the developments going on in our borough — something which many find rather offensive. When the Mall at Bay Plaza opened back in August, he used it yet again. Since the mall opened, several businesses have been forced out by rising rents at the malls developed and run by Prestige Properties and now our last bookstore has fallen victim to this “New Bronx” mantra.
Welcome2TheBronx first heard about this from Amelia Zaino, a 24 year old graduate student at Lehman College studying Geographic Information Studies who lives in Co-op City. Zaino posted about it in the Facebook Group Bronx Movers & Shakers (after reading about it in the Co-op City Times) and immediately started a petition, along with her friend Jessica Cruz, addressed to Prestige Properties to keep Barnes and Noble in place at Bay Plaza (PLEASE MAKE SURE TO SIGN IT!). Zaino told us, “I think it’s completely embarrassing that the Bronx is about to become the first borough without a public, secular bookstore. We were the last to get a Barnes and Noble and the first to lose it. I also think it is sad that our leaders think economic recovery is based on the number of clothing stores and chain restaurants we have, and not on a variety of businesses, especially those selling educational materials and books.”
In the petition, they passionately state:
“The New Bronx” is a growing retail center, with cell phone stores, clothing stores, and chain restaurants sprouting on every corner. We just opened the largest indoor mall in New York City in 40 years. But by the end of the year, “The New Bronx” will be the only borough in New York without a bookstore.
In a borough with nearly a dozen institutions of higher education and almost 20 percent of its residents now possessing a bachelor’s degree, the lack of accessibility to quality literature, in addition to art and hobby supplies, is truly alarming.
Community residents will no longer have a place to purchase novels, instruction books, nor training manuals for important exams such as the SATs. They will no longer be able to meet their favorite authors or celebrities, including Steve Harvey and Joel Osteen.
In addition, dozens of Bronxites will now be out of work and forced to find jobs elsewhere.
The signers of this petition demand that Prestige Properties arrange a fair leasing deal for the bookstore, and allow it to stay in the area. The Bronx is already the poorest county in the country. We must not let it become the stupidest.”
In a statement issued to Welcome2TheBronx, Barnes and Noble’s VP for Development, David Dearson said, “Our lease is expiring and we worked diligently to extend the lease. The property owner informed us that they had other users who were willing to pay in excess of what Barnes & Noble was paying for the leased space. We operated our Bronx store and were happy to serve the community for 15 years. We’ll look to re-open as soon as an opportunity presents itself.” We reached out to Prestige Properties but have yet to hear back from them.
Since B&N appears willing to re-open in the borough as soon as the opportunity presents itself, I say, why not in Melrose at The Hub? It is an area that has seen a renaissance in recent years with over $2 billion in developments as well as new stores such as The Children’s Place, Carters, and the Manhattan-based shoe store, Orva (with one of their stores directly across a B&N on 86th and Lexington Ave on the UES). Not to mention national fitness chains such as Planet Fitness, Blink, and Crunch. The area is also home to not one but 2 of the Bronx’s first luxury boutique hotels: The Opera House Hotel and The Umbrella Hotel, the latter of which is scheduled to open shortly.
Tens of thousands of professionals work in the area under a 1 mile radius from medical professionals at Lincoln Hospital, to the legal profession with thousands of attorneys working in area offices and at the court system located within the neighborhood to the many businesses which have offices in the neighborhood.
The Hub is at the nexus of 2 major subway lines, the 2/5 express trains at 3rd Avenue and 149th street and is the 2nd busiest station in The Bronx with 7.3 million riders in 2013 and is the 54th busiest station in New York City out of 421 stations in the system that are tabulated (there are a total of 468, however, quite a number are interconnected therefore counted as one). It is where 9 major bus lines run through including the express SB41. These 9 bus lines (Bx2, Bx4, Bx15, Bx17, Bx19, Bx21, Bx32 Bx41 SB41) saw an unprecedented ridership of almost 52 million passengers along their routes in 2013, partly due to all the developments in the area and increase in population in neighborhoods that were once just empty lots.
The Hub also sees pedestrian traffic of over 250,000 people a day, which according to The Hub Business Improvement District, makes it the busiest intersection outside of Times Square. These people are local residents, employees who work in the many office buildings in the area, shoppers, and visitors to the many services based in the area. It is an area that is 2 blocks away from Lincoln Hospital and it also sits within walking distance of 4 institutions of higher learning 2 of which are within 2 blocks.
A Barnes and Noble at this location would make sense since it can also easily capture residents from Manhattan over in Harlem which is only 5 minutes and 2 stops away on the 2 line.
What do you think? Do you think the Hub would make an ideal place for a Barnes and Noble location? It is one of the most easily accessible locations in our borough and would ensure that we still have at least one book store in The Bronx.