Sunday, April 02, 2017

Petition asks Federal Realty to keep Barnes & Noble at Bethesda Row

As the realization that downtown Bethesda's community hub Barnes & Noble is on the way out sinks in, some residents are seeking to stop the December closure of the bookstore. A petition asking landlord Federal Realty to "Keep Barnes & Noble in Bethesda" on Change.org had 447 signatures as of 7:57 AM this morning.

The petition asks Federal Realty to "strike a fair leasing deal" with the struggling chain bookseller, and threatens to boycott the as-yet-unknown replacement tenant(s) of the large anchor space at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues. It has even drawn a snarky comment from snarky blogger Matthew Yglesias, who once thought invading Iraq was a good idea.

How much room there is for reconsideration of Barnes & Noble's decision to exit is unclear, but the odds of reversing it are likely steep. Barnes & Noble said yesterday in a statement that they were "unable to come to an agreement" with Federal Realty on a new lease. For its part, Federal Realty is saying nothing about the future of Barnes & Noble, having a policy to not comment on tenants' lease situations.

My guess is that the struggling bookstore chain doesn't want to be tied down to a long new lease for any of its stores, and that could have made the potential rent significantly higher. Secondly, we don't know what Federal Realty may know. If Nike is waiting in the wings to lease this spot they've been rumored to covet, for example, that could be a more appealing anchor - from a real estate standpoint - than a chain bookstore that could file for bankruptcy at any time - particularly if the country goes into recession again.

A standard retailer in that spot, with no public gathering space inside, is unlikely to satisfy those lamenting the demise of Barnes & Noble. In the event there is no new tenant already secured, I'm sure Federal Realty is going to consider public sentiments such as those expressed in this petition. But, ultimately, such decisions are usually driven by the current real estate market, including the decision to let B&N go.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's odd that a Republican like you would criticize anyone for having "once thought Invading Iraq was a good idea".

It's even odder that you mention this in an article about a local business closing.

Anonymous said...

"A petition asking landlord Federal Realty to "Keep Barnes & Noble in Bethesda" on Change.org had 447 signatures as of 7:57 AM this morning."

"Robert Dyer at 5:01 AM"

LOL

Rugby said...

They've got my vote to stay. Let's do this!

Anonymous said...

Federal Realty and Barnes & Noble both realize that "nice little plaza" will be taken for the extension of the Purple Line to Westbard and beyond, just a few years from now.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Lowen's return in this space.

Anonymous said...

wtf? Only Dyer could talk about Barnes & Noble and the Iraq war in the same post.

Anonymous said...

I know the folks at Federal Realty, and the petition as no chance. They are calculating business people, and I doubt they want to tie themselves to the future or Barnes and Nobe. Most retail leases include the landlord sharing in the store's revenues, and I doubt Barnes and Noble's revenues have been very good. I suspect they'll quickly land an attractive anchor store.

Anonymous said...

The landlord is a publicly-traded company (NYSE: FRT). What if everyone bought 1 share, then petitioned the board, as shareholders, to change their decision?

Roald said...

Seems likes a fool's errand to try and keep Barnes & Noble. They're fading to the past.
Let's focus on getting the best replacement. In reality, we have no say in that either.

* Relocate library: Who's gonna pay for that? Will the county give away the libary property? I doubt the Edgmoor neighbors would allow it to be redeveloped. Unlike Westbard, they have successfully stopped development around their community.

I'll put my vote in for Dave & Busters.

I likely won't be renewing my B&N membership. I do get to the Montrose location occasionally, so I'm still considering my options.

Robert Dyer said...

7:17: It makes perfect sense, as A) Not every Republican favored the Iraq War, especially those who - unlike George W. Bush et al - were knowledgeable about the political dynamic, and therefore understood what would happen if Saddam Hussein were removed, both internally and how it would help Iran bigly

and

B) Yglesias, who also claimed Chipotle jobs would and should replace high-wage industrial jobs in America, definitely deserved a bodyslam for bringing his snark to a local discussion about Bethesda he has as much knowledge of as he does Middle East geopolitical strategy and economics.

Ruslev said...

Amazon is looking for brick and mortar stores. They are opening all over. A place where Bezo can have a DC presence and still allow is Washington Post people give their talks would be a good fit right into the space.

Anonymous said...

FRT (giggle) has 72.11 outstanding shares of stock, currently worth $133 each.

If all of the (currently) 1,000 signers of the petition paid $133 each to buy 1 share of FRT, they would collectively own 1.5 thousandths of 1% of the company. Not quite enough for an effective proxy fight.

Anonymous said...

FRT also owns Montrose Crossing.

Anonymous said...

Here's how the library swap can work:

- Land-swap the parking lot area of Bethesda library for a 99-year lease on the B&N property. Allow developers to place high-end townhouses there, but no retail. That will satisfy Edgemoor concerns about it being built up too much, and they'll have less riff-raff if it's high-end townhouses compared to the average dolts who park there to visit the library.
- Tear down existing library and Freeland Park, and redesign into a combined outdoor space and better playground.

Of course, it'll never happen because the Council can't think creatively...

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 12:05 PM - 96.4% of the Republicans in the House voted for the Iraq War - with only 6 voting against it, and 2 not voting.

98% of the Republicans in the Senate voted for the Iraq War. Only one - Lincoln Chaffee, voted against.

Robert Dyer said...

2:13: There are more Republicans who are not in Congress than are - and thank God for that. So just because Republicans in Congress voted for it, doesn't mean all Republicans supported it.

Anonymous said...

"There are more Republicans who are not in Congress than are - and thank God for that."

Not sure what you mean by this.

Does this apply to the County Council too?

Anonymous said...

The market does not need Barnes & Nobles stores of this size anymore. I love books but I have to be honest. B&N has survived this long in part because they've moved towards selling gift items, toys, games, etc. They don't need stores this big to do that.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the moribund Nooks and CDs and DVDs, the stationery, the toys and games, and all that space with nothing in it, and open a store that is between the sizes of Olsson's and the original Borders on Rockville Pike.

Anonymous said...

@7:17
Dyer is a Bannon/Trump/Palin "Republican" and is part of the anti-immigrant/build the wall movement.

Anonymous said...

12:28 - s/b 72.11 million outstanding shares.

Robert Dyer said...

12:24: Thanks for bringing up the Amazon store - that is one I was trying to remember that's a potential replacement here.

5:28: No, not the Council. Just the Congress that approved going into Iraq. Not to mention Republicans control the House and Senate, and yet can't pass anything. Almost as embarrassing as Ryancare.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Dyer (R). For once. You should be very embarrassed about your party.

Anonymous said...

Can we get a funeral date for Quincy's please? Much more interesting than B&N which was discussed at length months ago when that news broke. It'll be a big building. Next.

Anonymous said...

10:44 AM Re: Quincy's:
I called it when they didn't open for St. Patrick's Day, which was on a Friday this year.

A bar declining to open for the biggest drinking day of the year = closed for good.

Anonymous said...

Quincy's is going down. I just want to see an article about it to find out when the official closing is and who will take their place.

Anonymous said...

Quincy's is going down. I just want to see an article about it to find out when the official closing is and who will take their place.

Anonymous said...

I personally am VERY disappointed to see this Barnes and Noble go. I wish there were SOME WAY the community could come together to help keep it here. It is a VERY popular meeting space for first dates, students who gather at the cafe for coffee then stay and read at the tables. There are buskers outside and people know to meet at the fountain outside before going in to check out books and music. I LOVE book stores! They are 'second places' for many in the community, since we have no pub houses as they do in the UK. It's more interesting and stimulating than a coffee house, where people also meet to study and socialize and people watch and linger. I hope Barnes and Noble can be saved!

Anonymous said...

P&P FYW!!!

Hooray, Betty!

#Scooped

Anonymous said...

So if Dyer ever gets elected to that elusive county council seat, how will he rationalize and who will he blame with other businesses inevitably close?

Robert Dyer said...

3:59: Fake news. I should post an article about how Busboys and Poets "might come to Bethesda." You can't get "scooped" on something that isn't happening.

Anonymous said...

Barnes & Noble is a dying company - corporate welfare will just prolong the inevitable.

Let's be honest, the real loss is NOT a bookstore it is a community space that combined with the fountain out front is the heart and soul of Bethesda Row. Federal Realty isn't dumb - they understand the importance of that community space - but they aren't a charity either. Whatever FRT comes up with will probably not be as good as what we are losing.

There IS something the community could do, but it would be expensive and "gasp" require that the users dig into their own pockets -through increased parking fees or special tax zones to generate revenue to re-purpose the B&N space as a community space. Traditional libraries are no more relevant today than traditional bookstores, but look at what DC is planning of its obsolete main library.

http://www.dclibrary.org/mlkfuture


Bethesda residents COULD make that place special, but I doubt they want to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Solution: Fine Ourisman Honda a huge amount for its violation of easements and use the money to bridge the difference between B&N and FRT

Anonymous said...

@5:49, We Bethesda residents already pay EXTORTIONARY rates of taxes to the county. They waste our money on $600 an hour lawyers to protect the rights of Criminal Aliens--who are raping and murdering our young girls!

Anonymous said...

@7:04 Evidently you aren't paying enough to get everything you demand - leaving you to resort to pleading with businesses to make irrational business decisions, "or else."