The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to landmark 826 Broadway, the building that houses the Strand Bookstore. The decision came despite strong opposition from the owner of the Strand, Nancy Bass Wyden, who argued that the designation would mire the bookstore "in a lifetime of needless red tape."
The bookstore moved into the ground floor of the 11-story building in 1957 and bought the building outright in 1996. The building is deemed noteworthy for its intact limestone and brick Renaissance Revival facade featuring a number of historical details.
Wyden argued that the obligations landmark status would put on the store, such as having any cosmetic changes approved by the LPC, would be onerously time consuming and expensive. By extension, Wyden said that any additional potential financial obligations puts the bookstore's ability to remain profitable at risk—and, by extension, threatens the jobs of 230 people employed at the Strand.
At Tuesday's hearing approving the landmark status, Sarah Carroll, who serves as the chair of the LPC, called the Strand "a historic institution that reflects the era of Book Row, the center of bookselling." She added: "I'm confident that the commission's review of the masterplan and any future applications will provide [the] flexibility the Strand needs to remain nimble and innovative and to continue its important place in New York City, and adapt to a changing retail climate."
In response, Leigh Altshuler, the Strand's communications director, told PW that "Nancy continues to feel strongly that she has been tied up in a very unfair fight. She is pissed off and will be working with the community and our customers at the grassroots level to see what can be done going forward."
Altshuler was also keen to underscore that the store is not closing as result of this decision. "Any suggestion that we closing is absurd and wrong," she said. "We are very much open for business and will continue much as we have for the last 92 years."