Cooper Union Wavers On Rent Reduction For St. Mark’s Bookshop

Bookshop ownersJamie Larson St. Mark’s Bookshop owners Terrence McCoy and Bob Contant say Cooper Union will not reduce their rent. The university, however, says no decision has been made.

The St. Mark’s Bookshop’s fate may still hang in the balance — at least according to Cooper Union. Though the beloved bookstore’s owners have abandoned hope of getting a $5,000 rent reduction, a Cooper Union spokeswoman insisted today that no official decision has been made.

After a meeting yesterday with top administrators from the school, bookshop co-owner Terrence McCoy was left with the clear impression that a reduction of the $20,000-a month rent was not in the cards.

“They said they couldn’t do anything — that all they could do was defer one month’s rent,” Mr. McCoy said. “I don’t want to have more debt.”

But a spokeswoman for Cooper Union, Jolene Travis, said that the owners’ pessimism is unwarranted. “I can’t control what the bookstore says,” said Ms. Travis, adding there is a possibility the owners misunderstood the officials. “A decision has not been made.”

Ms. Travis said she spoke with administrators early today and confirmed that the university’s board of trustees will have a determination by the end of the month.

IMG_0008Khristopher J. Brooks St. Mark’s Bookshop.

The mixed messages — at least according to Mr. McCoy — left him perplexed.

“That’s very weird. She must be out of the loop,” said Mr. McCoy, who, along with partner Bob Contant, met with Cooper Vice President T.C. Westcott Tuesday evening and later President Jamshed Bharucha.

Mr. McCoy added that the administrators did not mince words regarding a lower rent, though Mr. Bharucha raised the possibility of selling textbooks through the store.

The confusion is not serving as a last minute ray of hope for the 33-year-old bookshop. Mr. McCoy and Mr. Contant say they are now trying to figure out how their store will survive with no rent reduction.

There has been one bit of good news for the shop, however. With all the newfound attention, sales in September were up 25 percent according to Mr. McCoy. The co-owner didn’t expect the bump to last long, but said the store wouldn’t be closing its doors any time soon.

“More sales is enough for us to stay in business for now, but you can’t expect it to continue ” he said.