BRONX (PIX11) -- Barnes & Noble isn't bailing on the Bronx -- at least not for the next two years.
Executives announced Thursday that the bookseller's location at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center will remain open.
News of the extended stay in the Bronx comes shortly after the bookseller announced it will close due to increased rent by Prestige Properties. Barnes & Noble is the last bookstore in the borough and the retailer initially declined to renew its lease, as well as an offer take a new space in the mall. The lease extension saved 50 jobs.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. brokered the deal between Barnes & Noble and the landlord, Prestige Properties.
“I’m here to say fret no more. I’m here to say we can claim victory. I’m here to say Barnes & Noble is here to stay,” said Diaz Jr.
Barnes & Noble’s Northeast regional Vice President Frank Morabito was asked repeatedly by reporters if the struggling bookseller could commit to more years.
Each time, this was essentially his response: “Today we’re here to celebrate the good news, that Barnes & Noble has extended the lease to stay in the Bronx, a community that we love.”
Sam Shalem, Chairman and CEO of Prestige Properties, said: "We made every effort to ensure Barnes & Noble remains at their current location. Keeping Barnes & Noble in our borough is beneficial for all and we are thankful for the Borough President's assistance in helping make this happen."
Several local city officials including Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, and more made appearances at the press conference. They all applauded Diaz's work in keeping the bookstore in the area.
They also acknowledged the importance of keeping Barnes & Noble in the neighborhood.
"Reading is fundamental. Since its opening, the Barnes & Noble at Bay Plaza has been an invaluable part of the neighborhood, serving 1.4 million Bronxites and countless others beyond the borough," Congressman Eliot Engel said.
Diaz Jr. said he hopes both companies will be able to reach a long-term agreement during the location's two-year extension.
"This is a major victory for the Bronx, and I am grateful that both companies have come to an agreement for the betterment of our borough," Diaz said.
Bronx residents say they will do everything in their power to keep the Baychester Plaza Barnes & Noble alive.
“I’m going to go out there and let people know, become a member, do more than just show up to Barnes & Noble and buy a latte,” said Nicole Singleton.