McNally Jackson bookstore announces move after 136% rent hike

Posted On Mon, October 22, 2018 By

Posted On Mon, October 22, 2018 By In City Living, Nolita, real estate trends, Soho

McNally Jackson bookstore on Spring Street. Image by Carl Mikoy via Flickr.

As one of New York City’s finest all-around independent bookstores, McNally Jackson booksellers on Prince Street is a literary standby for the latest bestsellers as well as thought-provoking political non-fiction, art books, cards, magazines, readings and more. Though the shop occupies a spot on one of the city’s most highly-trafficked “High Streets,” it has endured for 15 years, long enough to be taken for granted. But that would, of course, be a mistake in the city’s current environment of empty storefronts in high rent neighborhoods because only Amazon can afford the rent. And right about the time Amazon has opened a storefront in Soho, the beloved bookseller is moving out after the rent was raised to $850,000–a 136% increase. Fear not, the owner is opening again in a new location, but unlike other, less gutsy mom-and-pop proprietors, she has no fear of being very vocal about the issue, Fox5 NY reports.

Mom and pop is a particularly apt description in the case of Sarah McNally, who opened the store in 2004: Her parents own the Canadian McNally Robinson bookstore chain. She proved to be a savvy entrepreneur whose business has become a destination as well a perfectly positioned magnet for the foot traffic stream of tourists and locals that flows by on the bustling Soho street. “I got a call from my landlord saying brokers told him he could get $850,000 for the space and I currently pay $350,000,” she said. Even though she told him she couldn’t swing a $500,000 rent hike, he insisted. “I knew the rent should go up—it’s fair for rent to go up,” McNally said. “But I was surprised it would more than double.”

The store will move to a new location next year, but McNally is a vocal supporter of the proposed Small Business Jobs Survival Act. She’s one of a group of small business owners who point to the mix of landlord greed and vacant shop-fronts causing urban blight and helping no-one–including landlords whose neighborhoods lose value and customers as they hold out for Chase Bank, Apple and Amazon.

The aforementioned bill, first introduced in 1988, would enable tenants to obtain a 10-year lease with renewal rights and provide the right to arbitration in the event of a rent hike they deem unfair. It may not seem like much, but it’s a start. The bill’s primary sponsor, Council Member Ydannis Rodriguez, said at a recent rally, “This bill is about fairness, it’s about rights, it’s about stopping extortion.”

The bill is scheduled to have a hearing today, October 22, at 1 P.M. at City Hall. The bill’s sponsors urge small business owners testify. Opponents of the bill include the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Board of New York.

[Via Fox5NY]

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Neighborhoods : Nolita,Soho

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