Controversy Ensues Over NYC Bookstore’s Historic Landmark Designation

Strand Book Store, a New York City institution, was recently designated a city historic landmark. However, not everyone is celebrating this designation.

The store’s owner, Nancy Bass Wyden, argued that the landmark designation will be a unnecessary burden on her business. Bass Wyden believes that NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will mandate costly repairs and changes to the building that will prevent her from keeping the store in operation. Further, she said that the building is only of note because of the Strand, and that this designation threatens the very thing that makes the building worthy of being a landmark. In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Bass Wyden characterized the designation as a “bureaucratic straitjacket,” and a move that “amounts to … eminent domain.”

Landmark commission chair Sarah Carroll described the commission’s regulatory system as “efficient and flexible,” and believes that the designation will not interfere with Bassy Wyden’s future plans for the Strand. In a Medium post, Carroll wrote that the designation was based on both the architectural and cultural significance of the building, not only as the home of the Strand, but also for its historic involvement in the garment industry. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio argued that Bass Wyden misinterpreted the landmark commission regulations, and that complying with the regulations will not add significant costs to the store’s operation.

Bass Wyden has called for supporters to sign a petition against the designation. She has also set up the email account to gather the public’s questions, comments, and ideas about the landmark status.