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Forest Hills May Lose Its Barnes & Noble

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | May 15, 2015 12:33pm | Updated on May 18, 2015 8:50am
 Barnes & Noble on Austin Street has been in business for more than 20 years.
Barnes & Noble on Austin Street has been in business for more than 20 years.
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DNAinfo.com/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — The Forest Hills Barnes & Noble may be headed towards its final chapter.

The store at 70-00 Austin Street, which has been open for more than two decades, is currently negotiating its lease with the property owner, a representative said.

“We’re having current discussions with the property owner regarding an extension of lease at Forest Hills,” said David Deason, the vice president of development at Barnes & Noble.

“We have been in business there for over 20 years and hope that we can come to terms that are acceptable to both parties.”

The Daily News reported Thursday that the store would be closing as of January 2016. 

The chain, which closed its location on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows last year, declined to elaborate on details.

It is part of a nearly 80,000-square-foot retail complex on busy Austin Street, where “Barnes & Noble has been an anchor tenant since 1995,” the landlord, Muss Development, wrote on its website.

Muss chief operating officer Jeff Kay said that the store's lease expires in January and Barnes & Noble was given an option to extend it for five more years, "which they did not exercise."

"They have not given us any indication that they want to stay long term and we are already marketing the property," Kay said. "We have several meetings scheduled with a bunch of national retail tenants."

"If Barnes and Noble wants to stay long term we would love to keep them."

But Deason said that the bookstore has "clearly and consistently communicated to the property owner that we would extend long term, but at rents very close to what we are currently paying.”

Over the years, the store has become a popular hangout spot for local students, seniors and families. 

Starbucks, Title Boxing Club and T.G.I Friday’s are also located within the complex.

If the Forest Hills outpost closes, Queens will be left with only one Barnes & Noble location — in Bayside.

Michael Perlman, a local historian, said the closure would “signify the loss of a cornerstone which predominantly serves our central Queens communities.”

He also suggested the community should launch a petition drive and letter campaign directed at Barnes & Noble and its landlord which would “emphasize that the lease be renewed with no rent increase.”

Perlman also pointed out that several other longtime venues closed in the area recently, including Brandon Cinemas on Austin Street which was replaced by a health facility.