BY LUIS GRONDA
Barnes and Noble may close the book on its Forest Hills location.
The bookstore giant is rumored to be shutting down its Forest Hills location, which would leave Queens with only one Barnes and Noble location in Bayside. The national chain closed a location in Fresh Meadows last year.
The lease is reportedly set to expire at the chain’s 70-00 Austin St. location in January 2016, and the property’s landlord is asking them to pay higher rent to stay in Forest Hills.
When reached for comment, a Barnes and Noble spokesperson said the company would like to return close to the current rent that it pays.
“We’re having current discussions with the property owner regarding an extension of lease at Forest Hills. We have clearly and consistently communicated to the property owner that we would extend long term, but at rents very close to what we are currently paying. We have been in business here for over 20 years, and hope that we can come to terms that are acceptable to both parties,” David Deason, vice president of development at Barnes and Noble, said.
Shortly after the news of the bookstore’s possible departure, residents created a petition asking Muss Development to keep Barnes and Noble in Forest Hills.
Michael Perlman, a neighborhood historian who started the change.org petition, said many community members in Forest Hills are hoping the bookstore stays open.
“Barnes and Noble is a part of our community and quality of life,” Perlman said. “It offers educational, social and a cultural environment.”
The petition itself has nearly 3,500 signatures as of press time and steadily increasing.
Pearlman said they are looking for ways to expand this initiative- further, including organizing a “buy in” day, meaning bringing several residents together to patronize the bookstore on a specific day.
Jeff Kaye, the chief operating officer at Muss Development, confirmed the lease expires next year and said they are hopeful to negotiate a new lease agreement with Barnes and Noble. He said they are also meeting with other national chain stores and they are hoping to fill the space with a tenant, whether it’s Barnes and Noble or another company, in the near future. Kaye declined to disclose which companies they are speaking with other than Barnes and Noble.
The Forest Hills store opened in 1995.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, email@example.com, or @luisgronda.