Forest Hills expresses frustration, sadness over Barnes & Noble closing

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

Updated Monday, Aug. 31, 1:14 p.m.

They’re not ready to say goodbye.

After a long fight to try to keep the 20-year-old bookstore open in Forest Hills, residents and Barnes & Noble patrons are fuming over the thought of the property being turned into a Target.

Forest Hills resident Virginia, who was perusing the store and declined to give her last name, signed a petition started by local author and preservationist Michael Perlman to express her support.

“What a disaster,” Virginia said. “One of the great things about living around here is having access to a place like this. It’s a shame. It seems to be a thing in this neighborhood like other neighborhoods, if you walk along Austin Street a lot of the businesses that have been here for years have closed so I guess it’s the rents.”

The bookstore’s lease will expire in January 2016 when the Target will open in the space, joining Starbucks, Men’s Warehouse and T.G.I. Friday’s. Muss Development LLC and Barnes & Noble were not able to negotiate a lease renewal, which allowed Target to make an offer.

The Forest Hills Target store will be the company’s first flexible-format location in the city and is expected to open in July 2016. According to Target, the two-level, 21,000-square-foot space will be stocked “with a tailored assortment that caters to city dwellers, including home products perfect for single-family homes and condos.”

Rendering courtesy of Target
Rendering courtesy of Target

Nadereh Saiediaa and her daughter Orel had just finished school shopping at the bookstore and were upset to find out that in a few months, they will have to do their shopping elsewhere.

“We need it,” Saiediaa said. “Barnes & Noble is very useful. We just bought a book for school and we’re happy to have Barnes & Noble here.”

Perlman, in an email, said the loss of the beloved bookstore is a “travesty.”

“We are losing more than a bookstore, but a soulful part of our community which benefits many people’s daily lives,” he wrote. “Books grant a universal language and interacting with neighbors in an appealing and vibrant space while holding books and smelling the print cannot compare to reading a book behind closed doors that was retrieved on Amazon.”

Along with the closing of the Forest Hills site, Barnes & Noble will also be shuttering its store in Bayside, leaving no more locations in Queens for the bookstore chain.

Comments expressing residents’ disdain flooded The Courier’s Facebook page following the news of the Forest Hills store’s closing Wednesday, and many people were concerned with the lack of parking in the already congested street.

“Has anyone done a parking assessment or is everyone walking to Target and carrying their bulky purchases through the crowded streets of Forest Hills and hopping on equally crowded mass transit?” Dawn Rodriguez-Insanalli commented. “Strange location since there are many Targets already available with ample parking. Sad to see another bookstore disappear.”

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