The final chapter on Barnes & Noble in the Bronx has not yet be written.
In a last minute reprieve, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced late on Wednesday, October 22 that he has collaborated with Prestige Properties, which runs the Bay Plaza Shopping Center, and the book retailing giant, to save the borough’s only Barnes & Noble. It had appeared the book-seller would not renew the option on its lease.
“This is a major victory for The Bronx,” said Diaz. “For several days, myself and my staff went back and forth with both Barnes & Noble and Prestige Properties, and we were able to help these two entities work towards a compromise that keeps this bookstore in The Bronx.”
The store will remain open for at least another two years.
Diaz added: “I hope that both companies are able to reach a long-term agreement that ensures their mutual success in our borough.”
Good News After Uncertainty
Earlier in the week, Barnes & Noble appeared to be leaving the Bronx for good.
In fact, just hours before Borough President Diaz Jr. announced the deal, word reached the Bronx Times that Prestige Properties and Barnes & Noble were still negotiating. The owner of Bay Plaza was doing everything in their power to keep Barnes & Noble at the sprawling shopping center.
Sam Shalem, CEO Of Prestige Properties, upon learning several weeks ago that the large brick and mortar book-selling business had decided not to renewits lease, was looking for some way to convince Barnes & Noble to stay at the expanding indoor and outdoor retail hub, according to sources.
“A few months ago, they had an option to renew their lease and they decided not to,” Shalem said to the Bronx Times earlier on Wednesday. “We are trying to work on something with them.”
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said that the retailer cited its changing business model.
The source said that Barnes & Noble had also been given the option to move inside the new Mall at Bay Plaza by Prestige Properties.
According to published reports, Barnes & Noble and similar brick and mortar retailers have faced intense competition from online booksellers, especially Amazon.com, which continues to grow its printed book sale business. Amazon dominates the e-book business, the reports stated.
“We all know the reason,” said Shalem. “Booksellers are struggling these days because their business model is not working well for them, or as well.”
Benedetto lends his help
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who represents Co-op City, stated in the days leading up to the announcement that he has reached out to all involved parties in an effort to keep the book-seller.
He had called the offices of Prestige, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Diaz, and of course, Barnes & Noble.
“Barnes & Noble is valued part of the Bronx and Co-op City community,” said Benedetto. “It is important not just as a book store but as a representation and a statement that the Bronx is worthy of such an establishment. I’m happy to learn they are staying”
About 15 years ago, there was a long, hard-fought advocacy to get a Barnes & Noble into the Bronx. It was led by many civic and business leaders.