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You Told Us: Concerns About Target Replacing Forest Hills Barnes & Noble

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | August 28, 2015 3:25pm
 Target will replace Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills next year.
Target will replace Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills next year.
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“You Told Us is a regular feature where we highlight comments from users in the communities DNAinfo covers.”

QUEENS — The announcement earlier this week that the Forest Hills Barnes & Noble will soon be replaced by a Target frustrated many local residents and elected officials alike.

The bookstore at 70-00 Austin St., which has been open since 1995, failed to reach an agreement with landlord Muss Development over its lease, and will be closing in January next year.

"The loss of Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills will be a travesty," said local historian Michael Perlman, who started an online petition earlier this year, hoping to keep the store open. "We are losing more than a bookstore, but a soulful part of our community which benefits many people's daily lives."

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, a Forest Hills native, said she has been expressing her concerns in discussions with both Muss Development and Barnes ‎& Noble for months. 

“The Forest Hills Barnes & Noble has been an integral part of the community’s daily story,” Katz said in an email. “For many families their departure is an unfortunate one and closes a cherished chapter of the neighborhood." 

In July, Barnes & Noble will be replaced by Target, which will take over the two-level, 21,000-square-foot location.

Target said in a statement that its small-scale store on Austin Street will offer "a tailored assortment that caters to city dwellers, including home products perfect for single family homes and condos." 

But Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, said she is “deeply concerned” about Target coming to Austin Street.

“I don’t have enough facts but I feel that it is going to have an impact on the mom and pop stores, including the grocery stores,” she said.

“Yet, on the flip side,” she added, “it might be bringing more people into the neighborhood who are going to walk around and shop in both.”

Some readers expressed their frustration at the changes, posting comments on Neighborhood Square

►"pathetic. as if there aren't enough targets. why not just open a walmart and call it a day," one user wrote.

►"This will be a disaster for Austin St. They clearly didn't do an impact study. The streets and sidewalks cannot accommodate a retailer of this kind. Austin will be so clogged especially during the holidays. It will be a nightmare. I'm not happy about this as a Forest Hills resident," another Neighborhood Square user wrote.

Many also pointed out that there is a Target in nearby Elmhurst already, only two miles away from its future Forest Hills location:

►"Ugh. The Queens Mall nearby is already massive, and HAS a Target. It's walking distance from there! I was SO hoping this would be a Whole Foods. Lame," a Neighborhood Square user posted.

A number of residents also took to Twitter to express their concerns and disappointment.