Strand Bookstore owner pushes back against landmark status

UNION SQUARE, Manhattan -- Should a well-known long standing New York City bookstore be designated a city landmark? The city and the store’s customers say yes. But the owner says no way.

The Strand Bookstore has been perched at the corner of East 12th Street and Broadway since 1957. Before that it spent three decades on nearby 4th Avenue.

Tonight, 91 years later, we found it still packed with customers.

“It’s kind of a treasure so many things are dying Amazon is taking over bring back the brick and mortar,” one customer told PIX11. “The Strand should definitely be a New York landmark, going to school in this area feels like it was always a great resource you can get stuff that’s out of print here.”

“I think a lot of local businesses are closing down so marking this as a landmark will be phenomenal,” said another customer.

While customers agree, the owner of the Strand and the building does not.

“Please do not destroy the Strand by adding more bureaucracy and unnecessary expenses and restrictions slowing us down just when we need to be our most competitive,” said Nancy Bass Wyden. “In an attempt to preserve history you very well may end up destroying a piece of the city.”

It bills itself as New York City's legendary home of 18 miles of new, used and rare books.

It’s been Wyden’s family’s business since it’s opening in 1927. Her grandfather, Benjamin Bass founded the store. Her father, Fred, spent 77 years working, then running it. When Fred passed away early earlier this year, he gave the bookstore to Nancy.

“My dad would be so upset if he knew after all this time and sweat over a lifetime, in a single action the city would be essentially part owner of the building telling us what to do.”

Wyden argues the landmark designation would increase regulations especially when it comes to the cost of renovation and maintenance.

She spoke before the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission today at a public hearing.

The Commission is looking at seven buildings in all to potentially designate as landmarks in an effort to keep Union Square area intact.

They issued this statement to PIX11:

“The Landmarks Preservation Commission will continue to work with the owner of 826 Broadway, home to the Strand bookstore, to address her concerns and ensure that this cultural institution endures. LPC successfully regulates thousands of commercial buildings across the city and we are sympathetic and responsive to their needs.”