Online petition urges Barnes & Noble to stay in Bay Terrace

By Tom Momberg

A petition has been circulating online, started by a member of the community after she learned the Bay Terrace Shopping Center would be losing its Barnes & Noble bookstore, which has called the Bayside commercial center home since 1993.

In its place, Bay Terrace owner and caretaker the Cord Meyer Development Company has signed with HomeGoods store, a company owned by TJ Maxx, on a new lease, but said it could not disclose the exact timeline of the move.

HomeGoods did not return requests for comment.

The new HomeGoods store should be expected to occupy the 25,000-square-foot commercial space by early 2016, Cord Meyer Leasing Assistant Joy Mangone said. Renovation of the space is not expected to incur any major reconstruction at the shopping center.

Barnes & Noble Vice President of Development David Deason said the decision to close was beyond the company’s control and a matter of cost for renting the space.

“When our lease came back up for renewal, the property owner notified us that they chose a tenant who was willing to pay rents far in excess of what we were willing to pay,” he said in a statement.

Mangone said that was not the case, but that Barnes & Noble chose not to renew.

“We are very sorry to see Barnes & Noble leave. They have been a great tenant and played a tremendous part in the community,” Mangone said. “But we are very excited. We think HomeGoods will be a good fit for Bayside and the surrounding community.”

Bay Terrace Community Alliance President Warren Schreiber said he has heard some positive responses from area residents about the change, but also much disappointment.

“We’ve been hearing the rumors for a while now, but now it seems this is going to be a reality,” Schreiber said. “As far as the community is concerned, people are saddened to hear Barnes & Noble is leaving. It has always played a major part in the community, hosting events, programs for kids and book clubs.”

The Barnes & Noble location at Bay Terrace, 23-80 Bell Blvd., will be the last of the chain’s major sites in the borough as the Forest Hills location is also closing its doors soon, but Deason said the company is actively looking for potential new locations in Queens.

The petition circulating the web on www.change.org was started by Bayside resident Vasiliki Gliagias in hope it would get others involved in persuading the bookstore to stay. More than 1,500 supporters had already electronically signed the petition this week.

Disheartened by the news Barnes & Noble might close, Gliagias, also a New York University student, created a Facebook group to try and inform the community the literary hot spot was going to close, and within two days she had more than 1,000 likes.

She said she hopes the page will serve as a testament to the need for a bookstore in the community and will turn some heads of elected officials to step in and help Barnes & Noble renew its lease.

“The vast majority of those commenting on the page express what a shame it would be to lose such an establishment,” Gliagias said. “People have even messaged the page asking when ‘the rally’ is going to be and insisting that we protest. The Queens community is not kidding around. It’s easy to shut down retail stores who are not able to pay their lease, but a special consideration should be made for educational centers like Barnes & Noble that are so important to foster a well-rounded community.”

The Facebook group is called Keep Barnes & Noble Open in Queens, and had 1,775 likes as of Wednesday.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb[email protected]nglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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