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New York City bureaucrats are trying to destroy one of the Big Apple’s last bookstores with landmark status. Remarkably, the Strand bookstore’s owners think that landmark status will destroy their family business.
“Please do not destroy the Strand by adding more bureaucracy and unnecessary expenses and restrictions,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden begs. Wyden made her plea to New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, The Guardian reports.
“In an attempt to preserve history, you may very well end up destroying a piece of the city,” Wyden alleges. Wyden firmly believes that landmark status will put her family’s 90-year-old bookstore out of business.
How Landmark Status Could Kill An Historic Business
The bookstore’s website asks, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if by landmarking the Strand, a community treasure already considered a landmark, you put it in peril?”
For instance, Wyden thinks landmark status will make it impossible to renovate or modernize the Strand. Particularly, the family could not expand the store or add amenities like a coffee shop.
Any repair or upgrade to the business “would have to go through the slow bureaucracy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.” Because of this, bureaucrats could require the Strand to get special permission to fix its plumbing or add a new cash register.
Landmark Status Threatens One Of New York’s Last Bookstores
Amazingly, the Strand is the last bookstore on Manhattan’s famous Book Row. Nevertheless, when Ben Bass (Wyden’s grandfather) opened the Strand in 1927, Book Row covered six city blocks.
The Strand is still in business because it could grow to become the biggest bookstore in town. On the whole, the Strand claims to have 18 miles of books and offers 2.5 million titles for sale.
Consequently, the Strand is thriving without the City’s help. Notwithstanding, the Landmark Preservation Commission is eager to take the Strand out of business. In particular, the Commission wants to preserve the Strand as “a center of literary life in Lower Manhattan.”
City Threatens Family Bookstore Yet Gives Amazon $2.3 Billion Subsidy
“We are in a threatening retail and book environment, and are fighting to compete with Amazon,” the Strand website claims. “But unlike Amazon we have never asked for taxpayer-funded subsidies, tax breaks, or special favors.”
Notably, New York City is planning to give Amazon $2.3 billion in subsidies to open a new headquarters in Queens. Nonetheless, the Amazon subsidy is enraging many liberals.
For example, The New York Times calls the Amazon deal a “bad bargain.” Moreover, The Nation writer Jarrett Murphy labels Amazon’s promises to New York a “scam.”
On the other hand, politicians such as Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) claim that Amazon will bring 25,000 to 45,000 jobs to New York. Critics charge that services like the city’s subway are crumbling because of lack of funds.
In addition, New Yorkers are angry because de Blasio will help Amazon bypass zoning and land use regulations. To explain, Amazon will not need approval from the elected borough government in Queens for rezoning.
Number Of Bookstores In New York Falls By 80%
All in all, New York City is cutting bureaucracy for Amazon but threatening a successful family business with landmark status and red tape. Even so, the Strand is still thriving in a city where 80% of the bookstores have closed since 1950.
“The Strand is the last of the great bookstores that were a hallmark of business development south of Union Square,” Wyden states. “We’re the last for a reason.”
Ultimately, the fate of the Strand is in the hands of the Landmark Commission. However, the commission will not decide on the Strand’s landmark status until 2019.
As a result, in New York, only companies as big and as rich as Amazon can escape bureaucrats and landmark status. In the Big Apple, apparently everybody else is at the mercy of government officials and their cumbersome procedures.
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Do you have any more thoughts on the landmark status situation for the Strand bookstore in New York? Let us know in the comments below.