WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A popular pop-up bookstore that was meant to last only one week but became a neighborhood artistic hub for more than a year, has learned it will soon have to relocate.
The all-volunteer staff at Word Up Community Bookshop was informed that the building’s landlord terminated its lease on July 2, leaving the group 30 days to vacate the premises and find a new home.
Although the bookstore’s original month-to-month lease was initially signed with Vantage Properties, organizers received word that it would have to leave after the building was sold last month to new landlord, Alma Realty.
The landlord did not respond to requests for comment.
The bookstore, which is a joint collaboration with nonprofits Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) and Seven Stories Institute, was initially intended as a temporary space, but expanded when interest was so strong.
In addition to selling an array of books in multiple languages, the space played host to more than 1,200 performers in 12 months, and most importantly to many, provided a space for artists to gather and collaborate.
"For the past year, Word Up has actively fostered the creative spirit unique to the uptown community by bringing neighbors of all ages and backgrounds together around literature, music, art, and various issues relevant to the community," volunteer Veronica Liu wrote in an email to DNAinfo.com New York.
The group hopes to find a "centrally-located" 1,000-square-foot space in Washington Heights that could include a stage and storage space "at a subsidized rental rate," according to an email sent out to Word Up patrons on July 4.
Organizers said they are open to the possibility of converting the space into a bookmobile or sharing space at local restaurants, bars or churches, the Manhattan Times reported.
"If you have ideas, suggestions, or direct links to such a space, we are anxious to hear from you," the email said.
According to Word Up organizers, business has continued to grow over the past year, with a recent fund-raising drive bringing in $9,200 in 10 days to go toward rent and the operational budget.
Organizers said they are disappointed to have to move out of the place they’ve come to call home, but said they hope to reopen soon.
"The collective's needs are great," Liu wrote in an email regarding the closing, "but not impossible to achieve, considering all else that has been accomplished in the past year as a community."