Sunday, September 18

Saving Saint Mark's Bookshop

            EAST VILLAGE – Owners of Saint Mark’s Bookshop met with the landlords from Cooper Union on Wednesday to discuss a new lease with the struggling bookstore.
            Opening in 1977 Saint Mark’s Bookshop moved from its original location directly on Saint Mark’s Place to its current location on 3rd Ave in 1993.  When the book store first opened in 1977, the rent was $375 a month.  Although the location has changed a few times over the years, the current rent has dramatically increased to $20,000 a month.
            When the drowning bookstore requested a $5,000 rent reduction, however, Cooper Union denied them.  Even though Cooper Union does not own the building that the bookstore resides in, they lease the building from another company and sublet it to Saint Mark's Bookshop.  
            In an effort to save the bookstore, The Cooper Square Committee has issued a petition online to help save the bookstore for loosing their lease.  This is an organization designed to work with its residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally friendly housing and community spaces in an effort to keep the Lower East Side diverse.
            In an interview on Friday, Bob Contant said he and co-owner Terry McCoy arranged a meeting with the Cooper Union Board on Wednesday and were asked to provide a budget proposal and present it to the school’s president and board.  Saves have dropped by 35% in the last three years and it doesn't look they they will be able to cover their overhead, Contant explained.
            “The meeting was very cordial, but not much was accomplished,” explained Contant.
            Even Borough President Scott Stringer joined the cause with a  letter to the Cooper Union President, asking President Jamshed directly to renegotiate the bookstore’s lease.
            “The East Village cannot afford to lose the St. Mark’s Bookstore,” Stringer wrote.  “Longtime neighborhood institutions such as this independent bookstore, as well as other cultural institutions and small businesses, are what make the East Village a dynamic, unique neighborhood that we so cherish.”
             A letter and 30,000 signatures later, Cooper Union finally decided to rethink their initial decision to deny the rent reduction.
            In an e-mail addressed to all petitions,  Joyce Ravitz, a Cooper Square Committee representative wrote, “To bring you up to date…many of our elected officials have forced Cooper Union to meet with the owners to negotiate a new lease.  Bravo!”
            Promising to keep petitioners updated, Ravitz continues to stress the importance of taking action and requests the neighborhood to take one more step: “Buy one book from the Saint Mark’s Bookshop.”   

No comments:

Post a Comment