The World’s Only Curious George Store will be included in the redevelopment of its current Cambridge, Mass. location, and will not have to move, according to the store’s owner Adam Hirsch. The announcement follows a period of uncertainty, in which it appeared that the children’s specialty bookstore’s days were numbered as a fixture in the heart of Harvard Square.
The building, which houses retail businesses on the ground floor and office spaces upstairs, was purchased in 2016 by Equity One (now Florida-based Regency Centers). Soon thereafter, Regency announced plans to demolish and rebuild the property. Those plans appeared to leave no space for the bookstore, prompting public outcry and several community hearings, while Hirsch to begin looking for a new location elsewhere in Harvard Square.
Instead, Hirsch said Regency has offered him a spot in the new development, which is slated for completion in the summer of 2019. The specific placement of the store, which currently sits at the corner of the building, has yet to be determined, but Hirsch said, “We have agreed that they want us to stay within their project footprint.”
During the redevelopment, which will occur in stages, the bookstore will relocate within the site as a pop-up. Like the current 1,300 sq. ft. store, the permanent location will be an accessible, ground floor space, which Hirsch said is essential to the bookstore’s success. “Who’s our audience? Strollers and canes. Babies, moms, and grandparents,” he said.
Redevelopment and rising commercial rents in Harvard Square have caused a spate of bookstore and newsstand closures in recent years, most recently the foreign language specialty bookstore, Schoenhof’s, which shuttered its physical location and went entirely online earlier this year.
While the popularity of the neighborhood is contributing to the growing rents, Hirsch noted that it is also what allows the bookstore to keep its doors open. “We are blessed to have a fairly internationally recognized and large institution north south east and west of us,” he said of Harvard University, which is visible from the front doors of the bookstore. “They’re constantly having national and international visitors and conventions going on.”
During the holiday season, Hirsch said that visitors from out of town make up a substantial number of the bookstore’s customers. “There are people who live in the area, within a 10 mile radius,” said Hirsch, “and when their families are visiting, that gets people strolling around.”
Given the retail environment, a relieved Hirsch said that Regency has been “thoughtful, looking to collaborate in a very generous way.”
“We are grateful,” said Hirsch, “and we know we are fortunate. If things go as planned we will never be closed, even for a day.”