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Word Up Volunteers Negotiating With New Landlord to Delay Move

By Carla Zanoni | July 13, 2012 8:37am

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A popular uptown pop-up bookstore may stay in its current space longer after its landlord agreed to enter into negotiations with the volunteers who run the space. 

Volunteers at Word Up Community Bookshop began negotiations with their landlord, Alma Realty, after receiving a letter notifying them that they needed to vacate by the end of the month. 

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. 

Officials from the realty group later said they would be willing to meet with the bookstore volunteers to discuss transition options, Word Up organizers said. 

“We're trying to work as quickly as possible, and there are many things in motion,” Liu said, explaining that they are hoping to come to a resolution quickly. “A lot of people have been giving great advice and very targeted help, which we appreciate so much.” 

Negotiations began after urging from several elected officials, including State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and City Councilmen Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez

"Since its inception as an experimental pop-up bookstore in donated temporary space, Word Up has become the gem of Washington Heights,” Espaillat said in an email, pledging support. 

“Thirteen months, thousands of books, and hundreds of performances later, the volunteers at Word Up have shown what people can accomplish when they come together to work for the common good." 

Liu and Sandra Garcia-Betancourt, executive director for the collaborating organization Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), planned to meet with Alma representatives on Thursday. 

“Our two big goals at the moment are to have as little interruption/down time as possible between spaces, and to make sure that any space we move to is as permanent as possible,” Liu wrote in an email. “Basically everything the opposite of a pop-up shop!” 

Alma Realty did not respond to requests for comment.