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Court Square Library to Close Saturday; Gianaris Makes Last-Minute Plea to Landlord

Court Square Library (Photo: Friends of Court Square Library)

Feb. 12, 2020 By Allie Griffin

State Senator Michael Gianaris made a last minute plea asking the landlord of Court Square Library building to extend the library’s lease before it shuts its doors Saturday.

Gianaris penned a letter to Savanna Realty, the owner of the One Court Square tower at 25-01 Jackson Ave., asking the company to extend the library’s lease in the building until Queens Public Library (QPL) finds it a permanent home.

Court Square Library has occupied a 3,200-square-foot ground floor space at the Citigroup Building, also known as One Court Square, since 1989. It will vacate the building on Feb. 15, before the lease termination date on March 31 so that library employees can pack and restore the space as needed.

Gianaris asked the managing director of Savanna to extend the library’s lease through the end of the year.

“With more time, we will be able to partner with neighbors, community groups, and various government agencies to find a long term home for the library,” he wrote in the letter. “Extending the lease from its current March 31 termination will allow for continuity of service for library patrons who rely on this facility.”

Queens Public Library paid an annual rent of $1 per year since the 50-story building opened and had been subleasing the space from Citigroup, which is moving out of the building as well.

Savanna, which bought the building in 2014, is looking to find a tenant that will pay market rate that the owner had previously said is in the $55 to $65 per square foot range.

The real estate company took a hit after the Amazon HQ2 deal fell through a year ago; it was was expecting to rent about one million square feet of the 1.4 million-square-foot building to the e-commerce giant.

Despite Amazon’s change in plans, Citigroup is moving ahead with its plan to relocate its staff when its lease is up this year — which left the fate of its subleaser, the Court Square Library, up in the air.

However, Citigroup was able to negotiate a six-month extension for the library’s lease which originally was scheduled to end on Aug. 31, 2019.

Gianaris is hoping to pressure Savanna into issuing the branch another lease extension.

“This library is a critical asset to Long Island City and this company should be able to extend their lease, for even a few more months, to facilitate continuity of services while a permanent home is found,” the state senator said. “The Court Square Library plays an important role for a growing neighborhood and I will do everything I can to ensure its continuing presence in our community in a permanent home.”

In April, a spokesperson for Queens Public Library told The City that a lease extension from Savana was “doubtful.”

“We are having conversations with Savanna to see what’s possible. We are talking to Citibank as well,” the spokesperson told the publication. “Based on our recent conversations with Savanna it [the extension] is doubtful, but nevertheless we remain hopeful about receiving an extension.”

Last month, a QPL spokesperson told the Queens Post “there was nothing to negotiate,” as far as a new lease with Savana. The library was asked to vacate the building once the lease ended.

While the QPL looks for a new home in the Court Square area, mobile library service will be provided on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Monday, Feb. 24, in front of the Court House at Jackson Avenue and Court Square West.

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7 Comments

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FreshLic

While I’d obviously would like this public good extension to happen, this smacks of gross incompetence by QPL and local officials. An extension was granted, yet they couldn’t find a suitable location knowing well ahead of time the lease was ending and not likely not going to be renewed?

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rikki

$60 x 3200 is $192,000 per year….. they must have just realized they overpaid for the building to need that rent so badly

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Ridiculous

I hope it’s not lost on anyone that it’s because of Gianaris’s disingenuous opposition to Amazon that we are losing the library…

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Jeff Bezos is too rich

Please give up the Amazon begging. It’s over. We all survived and are better without them.

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The lease expires March 31

The Amazon deal wasn’t on the table when they signed the lease.
They are leaving because of the lease.
Amazon is never mentioned.

You’re completely wrong.

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Haynes

Obviously Mr. Gianaris is better at breaking deals rather than making deals. But what can we do?

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Anon

It’s difficult to feel sympathy for a large real estate development firm. So you’re not getting market rate for ONE space and won’t extend the lease for the public good. What about the other empty spaces they can charge market rate for? What about being a good community partner?

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