Bronx Borough President saves Co-op City bookstore

borough pres

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz is surrounded by executives and supporters of Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Co-op City on Thursday, October 23, after the borough president negotiated a lease extension of two years.

By Carmen Glover

On Thursday, October 23, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. negotiated a deal to keep the sole bookstore in the Bronx open for another two years, with no rent increase.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers, which operates a bookstore in Bay Plaza Shopping Center, was on the verge of closing because Prestige Properties and Development, which operates the Bay Plaza Shopping Center and newly- built Bay Plaza Mall, had raised the rent for the bookstore and refused to extend the lease for the store, causing the store’s proprietors to decide to close.

Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Co-op City's bay Plaza Shopping Center.

Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Co-op City’s bay Plaza Shopping Center, was saved by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The punitive action caused outrage among the residents of the borough, which for years has struggled with the perception of being the borough that has been left behind while other boroughs thrive with a variety of stores and diverse options. But in keeping with his pledge to help bring the Bronx to the forefront of development and relevance, Borough President Diaz acted swiftly to reverse the pending closure. In a press conference held on Thursday, he announced the deal’s impact on Bronx residents:

A father reads with his son, planting the seed of knowledge at a tender age.

A father reads with his son, planting the seed of knowledge at a tender age.

“We are a borough that loves to shop, yes. We like sneakers and handbags but there is also an intellectual capacity, an intellectual population in this borough. We love our books as well,” he said.

Store owners at the Bay Plaza’s outdoor shopping center have been complaining that ever since the indoor mall opened in Bay Plaza in mid-August, they are being squeezed out. Longstanding tenants have been priced out with exorbitant rent hikes, while others are contemplating leaving due to diminished patrons. Prestige Properties’ owners, in the meantime, say things are rosy and there is no cause for complaint.

Diaz’s intervention has saved more than 50 jobs at the bookstore, which brings a sigh of relief to the borough’s residents and visitors to the shopping center and mall.–