September 28, 2011
We are writing to convey Manhattan Community Board 3’s support of the St. Mark’s Bookshop, a tenant of Cooper Union residing at 115 East 9th Street. It is our desire that it remain economically viable and in its current location for many years to come.
Since 1977, the St. Mark’s Bookshop has served the East Village as an independent bookstore offering books and reading materials customized to meet the needs of our unique neighborhood of students, artists, cultural institutions and other diverse groups. The St. Mark’s Bookshop has a loyal customer base of local residents who depend on this business to meet their needs.
Community Board 3 works closely with City and State agencies and elected officials as a platform for planning and decision making for our community. We recognize that the current recession has hit our community hard. It has caused local merchants to close their doors, giving way to what is becoming a glut of nightlife establishments and national chains that are permanently changing the character of our neighborhood. The St. Mark’s Bookshop typifies the type of businesses that we must retain, a business that is locally owned and has a long track record of success and deep roots in the community, and that provides daytime service and goods needed by the local residents.
Community Board 3 is proud to have Cooper Union as a part of our district and recognizes the significant contribution that your institution makes to so many individuals. We also understand that the recession has caused economic hardship for all of us and that you too have obligations to your constituents and donors. That being said, the revenue this lease represents to Cooper Union cannot be considered to be material in the scope of your vast enterprise, and that stands in stark contrast to the large impact it would have on our neighborhood if The St. Mark’s Bookshop were to fail.
Furthermore, the installation of The St. Mark’s Bookshop at this location was Cooper Union’s concession to this community for the much disputed construction of what was then a high rise dormitory.
Community Board 3 is asking that Cooper Union revisit the economic situation of The St. Mark’s Bookshop and the hardships it faces, and negotiate in good faith with it on a leasehold revision that will make it economically viable for this beloved bookshop to continue to remain open in its current location. We believe that without a meaningful rent concession The St. Mark’s Bookshop will potentially go the way of so many other local merchants and close its doors for good. This would be an enormous loss for our neighborhood.
We know that Cooper Union appreciates the unique character of the neighborhood in which it resides and has been and will continue to be an advocate for the welfare of that community. We sincerely hope that you will give this request the significant and thoughtful consideration that it deserves.