Effort to keep Barnes & Noble grows

The Bronx is not ready to let go of the borough’s last remaining bookstore.

Although a lease agreement has been reached with a new tenant to occupy Barnes & Noble’s current location within the Bay Plaza Shopping Center, many Bronxites are prepared to fight until the end to keep the beloved bookstore in the borough.

According to the Prestige Properties & Development Company, the owner of the shopping center that has been home to Barnes & Noble for the last 15 years, the site will soon be occupied by Saks OFF 5TH, a subsidiary unit of Saks Fifth Avenue, which will move into the location when Barnes & Noble’s two-year lease ends in March of 2017.

Prestige Properties stated that Barnes & Noble has determined that the existing store size and format is no longer feasible to support their business model, and therefore, has chosen to end their lease at the Bay Plaza location.

“Barnes & Noble has been an important and valuable tenant at Bay Plaza for years,” a spokesperson from Prestige Properties & Development Company, Inc. said. “We stand ready and welcome the opportunity to meet with Barnes & Noble and discuss other options for their continued presence here, so that we can keep them here as a valuable asset to the Bronx community as well as Bay Plaza.”

Prestige Properties added that the Bay Plaza Shopping Center has offered Barnes & Noble “some very attractive options” for a new store location to meet its new, smaller format.

Despite the fact that an agreement has not been reached between Prestige Properties and Barnes & Noble, there are many in the Bronx who will continue to fight to the end to keep the store from exiting the Bronx.

“It’s very disappointing that Barnes & Noble is leaving their location after so many years,” said Kathy Zamechansky of KZA Realty Group. “It’s unfortunate that a place which was so crowded and successful is at the end of its tenure.”

“This move puts the Bronx between a rock and a very, very hard place – because this is a major loss,” said Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. “This was not just a great place to buy books, but also a great place to buy last minute holiday gifts. However, we have not thrown in the towel – and we will continue fighting because we know that we can’t afford for them to leave the Bronx.”

“The residents of the Bronx have stayed here during the tough times, and now that times are changing for the better, these residents should be rewarded with great businesses as well,” Cintron added.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto will launch a petition drive in front of the Bronx Barnes & Noble location on Wednesday, November 2 at noon to show the borough’s overwhelming support for the bookstore.

“If Barnes & Noble does indeed leave this location, there will be a big void to fill at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center,” said Benedetto, who has been in contact with Barnes & Noble, Prestige Properties and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s office in attempts to strike another last minute deal to keep the bookstore here.

“This bookstore is near and dear to so many, and it’s a important thread in a beautiful tapestry that provides access to great stores, and we want to keep that tapestry intact,” the assememblyman concluded.

A spokesperson for Saks Fifth Avenue confirmed that Saks OFF 5TH will open its new location in the summer of 2017 and that they are excited to have a store in Bay Plaza Shopping Center, as well as the Bronx.

More from Around NYC