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Rent Reduction Allows St. Mark's Bookshop to Stay Open

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The financially struggling St. Mark's Bookshop in the East Village will stay open after its landlord, Cooper Union, agreed to reduce its rent by 12.5 percent and forgive $7,500 in back rent. 

"We are sincerely appreciative of the rent concessions," said the owners of St. Mark's, Bob Contant and Terry McCoy, in a statement.

The independent book store will now pay $17,500 a month for its space on Third Ave. and E. Ninth St., where specialties include books on cultural theory, graphic design, and poetry.

The owners had sought a $5,000 reduction on its $20,000 a month rent, but on Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer negotiated a one-year deal between St. Mark's and Cooper Union that will reduce the rent by $2,500 a month.

Cooper Union's decision came just days after it announced it would consider charging students tuition for the first time in its 152-year history, prompting a student walkout Wednesday night.

The university's president said the possible tuition hike was no reason not to help the ailing bookstore.

"Both The Cooper Union and St. Mark’s Bookshop reflect the independent and tenacious spirit of the East Village," said Jamshed Bharucha in a statement. "Despite our constraints, we felt it was important to help them."

Over the past few months, more than 44,000 community residents have signed a petition set up by the Cooper Square Committee to keep St. Mark's Bookshop from closing.

"We have to save this bookstore," wrote Maryline Jean-Pierre, who was the 43,664th person to sign the online petition. "I'm so tired of seeing nothing but drugstores, banks and Starbucks on every corner of NYC."

Store co-owner Bob Contant said the signature push boosted business 25 percent in September and October, but that business has been suffering since the financial crisis began in 2008.

St. Mark's opened in 1977. The hyper-local news site the East Villager produced the following look at the independent bookshop.

St Mark's Bookshop from The East Villager on Vimeo.