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New York’s 34-Year-Old St. Mark’s Bookshop Denied Rent Reduction

A rent-reduction request by Manhattan’s St. Mark’s Bookshop, a favorite of writers Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, was rejected by landlord Cooper Union, said Bob Contant, co-owner of the East Village store.

The shop had asked Cooper Union, the architecture, art and engineering school, to cut the rent by $5,000 a month to help keep its doors open, setting off a public outpouring of support. Contant said he and business partner Terry McCoy don’t know whether they’ll be able to remain at their current location.

“We’re stunned and seriously disappointed,” Contant said in a telephone interview. “We’re just letting this sink in, and then we’ll start to consider what other options we have for the future. One of those is definitely going to involve moving the store.”

The strength of holiday-season sales will help determine whether the store can stay on Third Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets, he said. Revenue has dropped 35 percent since the financial crisis of 2008, which came a year after Contant and McCoy signed a 10-year, $20,000-a-month lease on the 2,700-square-foot (250-square-meter) shop. Falling sales forced them to reduce inventory and fire eight part-time employees.

Jolene Travis, assistant director of public affairs at Cooper Union, said yesterday that discussions are continuing. A formal decision will be made at the end of the month, she said.

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