Landmarks doesn’t listen.

Strand’s lawyer, Alexander Urbelis, went into detail about how we tried to work with and warn Landmarks about the consequences of their actions at our press conference on June 11, 2019.

All of our efforts made no difference.

Alexander Urbelis said, “We asked Landmarks time and again to take a broader view of what constitutes preservation, when that process could destroy a cultural institution like the Strand.”

Landmarks refused.

We asked Landmarks to reschedule its first hearing because it fell on the Strand’s busiest and most important time of the year – the holiday season.

Landmarks denied this.

We told Landmarks that the Strand is a fragile 92-year-old book store that simply cannot sustain the added costs landmark designation.

Landmarks ignored us.

We told Landmarks that their plan to designate this building put in jeopardy 238 full-time union jobs.

Landmarks didn’t care.

We told Landmarks that the Strand is more than a book store to the residents of this city, and that now, more than ever, institutions like the Strand need to be protected.

Landmarks dismissed this.

We reminded Landmarks of what Charles Scribner III said 30 years ago, when his landmarked book store was closing: “The whole landmarks situation is a mess . . . there has to be some relief to the people willing to operate independent book stores today.” 

Landmarks didn’t learn from this.

We offered testimony from notable authors, like Fran Leibowitz, Gary Shytengart, Hank O’Neil, and others, all of whom opposed this landmark designation because it could destroy the Strand.

Landmarks snubbed them.

We gave Landmarks the results of a CBS news poll that showed that 83% of New Yorkers opposed plans to landmark the Strand.

Landmarks refused to acknowledge this.

We came to Landmarks with a win-win solution: a preservation easement that would have given greater protection to the façade of this building than landmarking would have done.

Landmarks rejected this.

We tried to work with Landmarks to adopt a Master Plan that would address the Strand’s concerns as well as protect the Strand’s building itself; we asked for a postponement of the hearing so we could continue to work on this Plan and have it submitted prior to the hearing.

Landmarks refused to delay this morning’s vote.

By fighting Landmarks’ actions in the public and being fully transparent about our efforts, we hope that this will inspire you to share your own thoughts and experiences dealing with the Landmarks bureaucracy in NYC. 

Please do not share any confidential information (e.g. phone numbers, addresses) about yourself or anyone else. While we invite our community to share their grievances, we ask that you be respectful of others’ personal information. Any comments disregarding this single rule will be removed immediately.


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  1. If the community, the customers, and the owners of Strand Bookstore don’t want it to be landmarked, it shouldn’t be landmarked. I absolutely love the Strand, I’ve been a customer for 21 years, and I honor its mission to stay open and not sell out to larger corporations. Hopefully the government will eventually honor this mission, too.

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  2. 83% of us told you we didn’t want our beloved bookstore to become government property. The bookstore itself wanted to remain free and independent, which should ring some bells for anybody who’s ever taken an American history class. This isn’t protection. It’s fascism.

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  3. When I first moved back to New York from university in 2007 I worked in a landmark building near Houston and Broadway. That summer the air conditioning broke. Due to landmark restrictions on construction and permits within the building the building management was unable to fix the air conditioning for months. It was torture and despite Landmarks being solely responsible for the delay there was no apology and no improvement in their processes communicated to us.

    Reform Landmarks. Save The Strand.

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  4. Landmark designation is a death sentence for many active communities and businesses who simply can not afford the exorbitant cost of upkeep. It is a beaurocratic power move, more concerned with a narrow ideal of what New York could or should be rather than supporting the reality of the diverse thriving institutions (and the people!) that give New York its character. It is clear landmarking the Strand was an act of those most separated from genuine connection with and appreciation for the people of New York. I hope at least one of you wealthy landmarkers has enough humanity to financially support the Strand rather than let it crumble and turn into another vapid, cookie cutter modern building.

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  5. I have been generally supportive of NYC Landmarks Preservation and appreciation their efforts to protect NYC’s heritage. However, landmarking the Strand is a terrible idea. The Strand is a NYC institution which needs our support–not hamstrung by your regulations. and as much as I love the Strand, I don’t see much architectural merit deserving of preservation. It’s the Strand itself that needs to be preserved; Landmark status only threatens its survival.

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  6. My disgust and outrage at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission is reinforced almost weekly. I’ve watched as historic neighborhoods, including unique, irreplaceable 19th-century buildings, have been despoiled by huge hipster hotels and luxury housing, much of it ugly high-rises that wouldn’t be out of place in an industrial park. Its decisions can only be understood as giveaways to pols and their politically connected developers and retribution against anyone who stands in the way of them. It’s long past time that Landmarks be abolished and replaced with an agency that is works for the people, culture, and historic legacy of NYC.

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  7. Of all the buildings that should have been or should be landmarked in NYC, the city agency has almost obsessively focused on The Strand building, ignoring the owners in all aspects of the hearings. This family owned business has been a “landmark” in NYC, all on it’s own fro decades. The financial costs that the City will impose will drive them out of business. Is that the purpose of the Landmarks Commission? The number of significant buildings that Landmarks has allowing to be destroyed to build glass towers, to accede to the demands of Developers is shocking. The Commission seems quite tone deaf to the needs of local business, though they seem quite able to understand the desires of Developers.

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  8. It is terribly disappointing, although not too surprising, to hear that the Landmarks Preservation Commission chose to landmark the Strand even as the bookstore begged them not to. Why is it that our local government offers immense tax breaks and subsidies to corporations with purposefully inhumane working conditions for their lowest tier employees like Amazon, yet in the same breath they effectively cripple local businesses staffed by unionized employees like the Strand? When Amazon tried to set up shop in Queens, the people spoke up and said that they didn’t appreciate the way the government was doing things. Amazon cancelled their plans for HQ2 in Queens. Now people have spoken up again, asking their local government not to landmark the Strand, and the government hasn’t listened. It’s the duty of the people to voice their opinions. When they do, it’s the duty of elected officials and governmental institutions to listen and serve the interests of the people. We’ve spoken. It’s your turn to uphold your end of the deal and do what’s right for us and for our city.

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  9. There are enough economic forces working against independent bookstores even WITHOUT Landmarks taking this unconscionable action. The only thing that can save places like The Strand is community action. We need to fight as citizens for the values, community spaces, and cultural institutions we cherish.

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  10. The Strand and the few stores left like it! are the heart of a throbbing city: NO new store could ever take its place. To cool our New York heads and fill it with wonder we need only to enter the doors of the Strand, wander its aisles and plunk down with a book to be transported to another time or place. It’s a shrink’s coach downtown 🙂
    Hands off The Strand!

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  11. I testified a couple of years ago against a new historic district where I just bought an apartment. It was entirely done to satisfy local preservationists who agitated as a hobby in retirement. I don’t want to develop professionally and raise a family in an area that is permanently aging and hostile to change. The landmarking process is nakedly political and needs to be reformed.

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  12. Landmarks is a useless, soulless bureaucratic institution. Perhaps if they actually worked with people instead of forcing their will upon them, they’d realize that they do only harm.

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  13. I am not a New Yorker, not familiar with the intent of the Landmarks commission, not even a customer of the Strand, but I am shocked to action to say in these times of shouting, a time for respectful discussion is urgently needed. Let not the example of indignation we see in our country justify either side of this issue but to rise above and give ear to both sides. A solution will never come from heavy handedness nor from ignoring the voices of decent people concerned about preserving The Strand.

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  14. NEW YORK NEEDS THIS. Don’t let us crumble into the post-carbon age without the literary haven provided by one of the oldest and most revered merchants in the city.

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  15. The Landmarks Preservation membership must live a different reality than the denizens of NYC who value what The Strand Bookstore contributes to the preservation of intelligence in our time. Were The Landmarks Preservation responsible for supplying funding to maintain and sustain both their their position and beliefs designating The Strand Bookstore as “landmark preserved” would make sense and demonstrate validity of concern for what’s best for us. I strongly disagree with Landmark’s decision.

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  16. Why is it no one on the Landmark board acknowledged the thoughts of Strand and its supporters? This great business should be allowed to live and not be placed in an Economic stranglehold.

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  17. What makes something a landmark is the fact it has stood the test of time on its own. It has to also be significant culturally and/or historically. Something like The Strand is a landmark all on its own. It doesn’t need a city imposed declaration. It has been there and will continue to be there as long as it has relevance. If people want to protect it, it will be there without being declared a landmark by the city. It is very much like the concept of evolution. It might change, but it’s changes will make it better. As it changes it maintains more relevant to the people who want it it there.

    The city seems to be adding unneeded classification for something that doesn’t need protection. What the city should do is find ways to keep it relevant and accessible as it is. Keep crime down in the neighborhood. Make sure the street is clean. Make sure people from all over knows it exists and that the city at large is proud of The Strand and all that it signifies.

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  18. As a dweller in a landmarked cooperative apartment I truly sympathize with Strand bookstore. Landmark status , as far as I can tell, does nothing to improve the property. On the other hand, it doubles the cost of improvement and repair (even of the sidewalks in front of the building), and more than doubles the time it takes to make such improvements and repairs, due to the slow and unresponsive action of the Landmark Commission’s bureaucracy. And it is even worse for the Strand, which is a business and has to make a profit.

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  19. I’ve been coming to Strand for over a decade-and telling everyone I know about it! My visits were more frequent when I lived in the city, but even now, living in the Capital District, nearly every time I’m in the city I visit Strand. It is magical and perfect the way it is, HOWEVER having a historic facade is NOT more important than having a living independent bookstore. I wouldn’t rather have a “preserved” anything over it remaining living and vibrant. Strand is singular, unique, and an amazing survivor as an independent bookstore-continuing to be apart of the community, hosting events and author signings, not just selling books. The Strand is part of the present, not just thw historic, Manhattan, and I hope it will continue to grow with, and into, the future Manhattan and greater NYC. Please do not strangle it to death!!!

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  20. I’m not a native New Yorker but I do purchase books there. Why did landmark ignore everything that was presented by its owner? Appears to me that they have a personal agenda and that is to put the small businesses out of business? Is it for Amazon, Prime, and other big corporations so that they will have no competition? Push out the small business owner and eliminate good union jobs for the sake of profit. I don’t shop the big box stores where I live instead, I shop at community stores that have been around for years. Yes, we have the big box stores but they are in it for a profit and pay low wages without benefits. Once the competition is gone then they will increase prices and destroy community stores. Their profits go to out of state interests and seldom have they become a good community business. Leave Strand alone as I haven’t heard where the Constitution has been rewritten removing the freedom of choice and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Strand has been doing that for centuries to stay community friendly, good union jobs for families who have lived in NY for years and is well know by the people that shop there. Why do you want that to stop, landmark? What’s in it for you? Backoff.

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  21. I think it’s wrong to knowingly destroy the very thing you are insisting you are preserving. To slowly destroy The Strand in the name of preservation is an abomination. If the cure kills the person along with the disease, then what is the point?

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  22. My own experience as a homeowner of a landmarked home has shown that they push arbitrary tasks and expenses onto the property owner and are completely unresponsive – phones go to voicemail, messages are not returned, emails are ignored. What a complacent, abusive bureaucratic institution.

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  23. The last of its kind, and one of the few remaining independent bookstores anywhere, and the bureaucrats want to protect a successful business from itself, hamstringing it as a viable business? Who are these people anyway??? I didn’t vote for ANY of them, that’s for sure.

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  24. Walls of print for 92 years able to fortify itself do not need government intervention to protect it. The Strand Bookstore has been fruitful and strong in its autonomy. There’s no need or reason to be controlled by the Landmarks Preservation.
    LET IT BE!

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  25. A landmark designation by the New York City Landmarks Commission is a taking without compensation. I hope this can be challenged on Constitutional grounds, and the Commission disbanded.

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  26. During 30 or so years I’m shopping Strand,
    — 2nd floor got added
    — 3rd floor got expanded
    — 1st floor got rearranged
    Those were all excellent changes, allowing, to my delight, to display more books, and greatly increasing browsing space — a huge convenience for the customers.

    My question is — if the designation happened earlier, would it have delayed those very positive changes that made the store so much better? If the answer is “yes” — which I think IS the answer, than you got the answer to the question of “is the landmark designation good or bad?” It is bad for the customer, and hence is bad, period.

    When reading how Nancy’s concerns were simply ignored by those dead-set on the outcome, I was also thinking of my own experience in the federal courts, where judges simply replace parties’ argument with the bogus argument of their own concoction so as to decide cases the way they wanted to, not the way they have to. Clearly, judging — be it at the Landmarks, or in federal courts — is badly impaired, despite all guarantees of “due process.” Somehow, when you need it, this “due process” is nowhere to be found…

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  27. The degree to which Landmarks has refused to cooperate or even communicate with The Strand should be proof enough that Landmarks is in the wrong on this. It seems clear that their decision to landmark the Strand was pre-determined, and they felt no need to consider other viewpoints. This is no way to run a city, and these people should be replaced with people who take the job of the Landmarks commission seriously.

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  28. Great bookstores are more rare than historic buildings these days. Please look to the content of this building and how important it is to preserving and nurturing human interaction.

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  29. strands books store is important to us because we can buy books any books that include manga books and sell books so stop make strands bookstore a landmark got it domo aligato and one more think strands bookstore need to protest #love 漫畫迷

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  30. Landmarks seems to be placing ‘bricks & mortar’ over ‘books & culture & working families.’ This decision ignores our neighborhood and echos similar judgements e.g. the end of the Brooklyn Dodgers decades ago and the long decline of a neighborhood. We are now all suspicious of the real intent.

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  31. Cultural preservation is more than just bricks. In an era when Amazon is obliterating physical bookstores in cities, it is required to protect at least the very unique ones which the Strand certainly is. This is the equivalent of threatening the public libraries, it is about access to physical books, flipping through a book you didn’t know you needed. Thirty years on, I still miss the pleasure of going into Scribner’s on 5th Avenue! Don’t do the same thing again!! We learned from the destruction of Penn Station. Can you learn from the destruction of Scribner’s??

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  32. “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
    —— Thomas Jefferson

    The people in, of, and around The Strand did not want this.
    Reconsider this decision with open hearts and minds all the while questioning why the people were not listened to because the people have been and shall always remain more important than money.

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  33. The fact that landmarking an institution like The Strand could cause it to close down seems counter intuitive. The Strand is a landmark in our hearts (we don’t need any official designation) and it will forever be the best bookstore in the world. It truly breaks my heart that the city could potentially destroy a oasis like this. I stand with Nancy and The Strand and whole heartily oppose the Landmarks designation of this site. The city should protect these small business owners as opposed to putting more burden on their shoulders.
    I hope to God that we can keep this amazing business alive.

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  34. I am a partner in the Blackstone Law Group and we are proud to represent the Strand.

    We opposed the landmark designation of the Strand because this entire process has been wrong and wrongheaded from the start. The very unpleasant truth of landmarking is that it imposes significant costs on building owners and small businesses alike, who bear that cost for the benefit of others to enjoy. The Strand’s very existence is an ongoing and marginal proposition, and the Strand cannot and should not have to sustain the costs and encumbrances of landmarking without its consent.

    What is at stake is New York’s oldest and greatest bookstore and hundreds of union jobs, on which countless families depend to put food on the table and provide healthcare to their spouses and children.

    Landmarks and the City of New York should be ashamed that they have put in peril the future of the Strand and the families that count on this small business to survive.

    For the residents of this city, the Strand is more than a book store: it is a resource, it is a meeting place, a town hall, a vault of history, a center of learning, and a place where ideas clash and dialogue is established. Now, more than ever – in this era of divisive and binary politics – institutions like the Strand need to be protected.

    We will never stop fighting because the Strand is worth the struggle. Buildings don’t make New York the greatest city on Earth: it is what goes on within those buildings that matters most.

    * * * * *

    This website fully documents our efforts to convince Landmarks of their folly, and at every turn we – and our tens of thousands of supporters – were rebuffed, ignored, and even belittled.

    What transpired is not record of city agency that is responsive to needs of a small business owner.

    — Why else would Landmarks proceed with this vote without the Strand’s consent, or offering any protection to NY’s last independent book store? —

    What transpired is not a record of a city agency that is either transparent or has nothing to hide.

    — Why else would Landmarks, less than 24 hours before their vote on June 11, dump thousands of pages of documents on us that were the subject of our FOIL languishing since February 5? —

    — Especially when those documents show that Landmarks seemed more interested in digging up dirt on Nancy Bass Wyden’s personal life, than the architectural integrity of 826 Broadway. –

    — Especially when those same documents show that Landmarks was more interested in seeking out disgruntled Strand employees than hearing the voices of New Yorkers who love the Strand. –

    — Especially when many of those documents contain redacted communications with the Mayor’s office, the Deputy Mayor’s office, and former Landmarks commissioners. —

    What else are they trying to hide?

    We intend to find out: we have filed our FOIL appeal on June 26 and will not rule out legal action to annul this ill-conceived and ill-informed decision of a city agency that is entirely unsympathetic and unresponsive to the people of this great city.

    Propelled not by common sense or common purpose, but by shear intuitional inertia, we cannot permit Landmarks to threaten the Strand, or any other beloved homegrown businesses. We deserve more from our city agencies and we must demand accountability.

    Now is our chance to force Landmarks to listen and address the many complaints of business owners, small-business supporters, and Strand supporters. Please join the fight, share your experiences and grievances, and let your voice by heard.

    I thank you for your support.

    Sincerely,
    Alexander Urbelis

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  35. I strongly oppose the decision to landmark the Strand bookstore on lower Bway. The committee did not heed the overwhelming opposition of New Yorkers to this decision. The Strand is its own landmark without the interference and obstruction of the Landmarks committee!

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  36. I’m proud to provide a forum for the public to voice their concerns and complaints against Landmarks. As the third-generation owner of the Strand, I promised to take our fight against Landmarks to the grassroots level. This website is part of that fight.

    And I will continue to fight any and every action that threatens the existence of the Strand.

    From the outset, this entire landmarking process has been misguided, misused, and it started as the product of typical city politics and horse-trading. When Mayor de Blasio and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera struck an ill-conceived political deal to re-zone the area south of 14th Street and Union Square as the city’s Tech Hub, the City needed to landmark a few buildings to satisfy preservationists. The local preservationists were rightly worried that real estate developers might purchase buildings, demolish them, and erect soulless glass towers. Preservationists provided Landmarks with a list of over 200 buildings they suggested needed protection.

    What did Landmarks do? They did what they always do: They ignored the wishes of the people.

    Landmarks designated only seven buildings, and the Strand’s building was one of those sacrificial lambs. Our building was never in danger – and neither were any of the other six buildings that were also designated. If you’re skeptical, you don’t have to take my word for this.

    As Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation told Patch.com, “The landmarking of these seven buildings, none of which (unlike many of their neighbors) are currently endangered, comes nearly a year after the City Planning Commission and City Council approved the upzoning nearby for a ‘Tech Hub.’”

    A building two blocks from the Strand that Landmarks did not designate is the St. Denis Hotel – where President Lincoln and Mark Twain stayed, where Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the speaking telephone to New Yorkers, and where Susan B. Anthony addressed the women’s Suffrage Association. That was a building that was in danger and badly needed landmarking. That building is now in rubble and will be replaced by a soulless glass tower. If Landmarks had their priorities in order, that building and all the history that went with it would not have been lost to New Yorkers forever.

    As the ‘About Us’ section of this website illustrates, we told Landmarks that they might unintentionally destroy the Strand, that local union jobs are at stake, and that we would gladly place a preservation easement on the building. We tried to work out a Master Plan with Landmarks, but instead of waiting to see what the Strand needed to survive, Landmarks barreled forward, without our buy-in, without our consent, and without providing any protection to our 92-year-old independent bookseller.

    At one of my numerous meetings with Landmarks, I asked a simple question: can you guarantee that landmarking will not cost the Strand jobs or its existence? Landmarks could not make that guarantee.

    That is why we are fighting back. I owe this to my grandfather and father, both of whom struggled their entire lives to create the beloved NYC institution that is the Strand.

    I do believe that the people themselves can effect real political change. Real change does not start in government buildings—it starts at the grass roots level. It’s not trickle down, it’s bottom up.

    So, I ask that you, too, add your voice to this website, to share your thoughts and concerns about the Strand, and to share your grievances about Landmarks.

    Individually we may have been ignored, but collectively we will effect positive change, governmental accountability, and we will win this ongoing fight. Thank you.

    Sincerely yours,
    Nancy Bass Wyden

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    1. strands books store is important to us because we can buy books any books that include manga books and sell books so stop make strands bookstore a landmark got it domo aligato and one more think strands bookstore need to protest #love 漫畫迷

      Like

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