McNally Jackson bookstore, safe in Soho, plans expansion to Downtown Brooklyn and Seaport

February 12, 2019

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

Bad news took a U-turn at the start of this year when beloved independent bookstore McNally Jackson announced that it would not be closing its doors on Prince Street in Soho after all. The news came a few months after after owner Sarah McNally, who opened the store in 2004, announced the store would be moving out of the neighborhood due to a 136 percent rent increase (from $350,000 to $850,000). The flagship location of the bookstore is not merely staying open; it will be launching new branches in Williamsburg and Laguardia Airport, and as New York Magazine reports, is on an expansion binge of sorts with stores planned for South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn‘s new City Point complex.

mcnally jackson, bookstores, soho
Douglas Rushkoff and Micah L. Sifry at McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho. Image courtesy of Nelson Pavlosky via Flickr.

The decision to stick it out in the store’s flagship Soho location came after the building’s landlord walked back the rent spike to a (debatably) more-manageable $650,000 a year with gradual increases over five years. And some of the expansion plans–the Seaport store, for example–have been in the works for some time.

McNally’s landlords-to-be, who approached her to open locations at their properties, are asking affordable rates, and even offering her money to help with construction. It’s likely, given the mass-market nature of both the Seaport development and the new City Point mixed-use complex, they’re hoping McNally Jackson’s chic-intellectual vibe will provide some much-needed cool factor to what detractors may dismiss as a tourist trap and a mall, respectively.

Dekalb Market Hall at City Point, Brooklyn. Image: DeKalb Market Hall

The City Point store will span about 5,300 square feet on two floors. The mixed-use development has already gained smart-set points with the addition of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a subterranean food court that features some of New York City’s most iconic eateries including Katz’s Delicatessen, Gus’s Pickles, Foragers and many more–plus an on-site Trader Joe’s.

The two-story Seaport shop will occupy several buildings for a total of 7,000 square feet as part of a development that will include restaurants by David Chang and Jean-Georges Vongerichten and a hotel courtesy of the Cipriani family. Says McNally, “I get the chance to craft a beautiful bookstore, like New York has never had — other than [West Village bookstore] Three Lives. It’s like John Sandoe in London, but huge.”

[Via New York Magazine]


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