The final chapter has come for the Barnes & Noble locations in Queens.
One day after the chain announced it would close its Forest Hills store at end of the year, it announced Thursday it will also shut the remaining borough Barnes & Noble at Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside. David Deason, Barnes & Noble's vice president of Development, said it tried to negotiate new leases with the landlords of both properties but those fell through due to rent issues.
"With Forest Hills we communicated that we were willing to increase the rent and had an initial agreement with the property owners, who in turn did not live up to that agreement. With Bayside, when our lease came back up for renewal the property owner notified us that they chose a tenant who was willing to pay rents far in excess of what we were willing to pay," he explained in a statement.
The Bay Terrace representatives didn't return messages for comment Thursday evening about the Bayside bookstore, located at 23-80 Bell Blvd. A representative for Muss Development, which owns the Forest Hills property at 7000 Austin Street,said Target signed a 15-year lease at the location and its mini location will open in mid 2016.
"Austin Street is a natural fit for this new retail concept," Muss Development Principal Jason Muss said in a statement released Wednesday.
"There is no indication when the Bay Terrace location will shut its doors, however, Crain's New York, which first reported its closing Thursday, said the space will be home to a Home Goods store.
Regular customers to the Forest Hills store expressed shock and sadness on social media. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who used to be the city councilwoman for the neighborhood, called the store "an integral part of the community's daily story."
"For many families their departure is an unfortunate one and closes a cherished chapter of the neighborhood," she said in a statement.
Michael Perlman, the chairman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, launched a "Change.org" petition in May to save the location. As of Thursday night the campaign had 5,809 signatures out of its 7,500 goal.
"We need you to ask ALL of your friends to sign our petition & post a comment. Power to the residents & readers who value their communities most!" he posted on the campaign page.
Deason reassured Queens customers that Barnes & Noble is "is extremely important to us and as a result we are aggressively looking at new locations and expect to have a new store there in the future."