Strand bookstore owner fights against New York City landmark status

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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Michelle Charlesworth reports on the decision on whether to grant landmark status to an iconic bookstore.

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York City's Landmarks Commission on Tuesday held a hearing on whether to grant landmark status to the building that houses an iconic bookstore -- a designation the owner adamantly says she does not want.

Nancy Bass Wyden, whose family as owned The Strand in Greenwich Village for 91 years, spoke at the landmarks preservation hearing.

"The richest man in America, who's a direct competitor, has just been handed $3 billion in subsidies," she said, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' deal to bring a headquarters to Queens. "I'm not asking for money or a tax rebate. Just leave me alone."

She says landmark status would require extra renovation and maintenance costs that will drive her out of business.

She is pleading to be left alone and unencumbered by the landmark status she says the building does not need and argues would be "like a noose."

She said an effort to "save" her building would kill the very store that has made it an unofficial iconic landmark, citing bureaucracy, red tape and costs she says come with making any change inside or outside the building in an industry that operates on "very small margins."

The store has been in the present location of East 12th Street and Broadway for more than 60 years, in a building the Bass Wyden's father bought in 1996.

The New York City Landmarks Commission heard testimony against landmark designation from a dozen people and will hear more testimony at a later date.

The timetable for a decision is not yet known.


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