P.S. Bookshop, the iconic DUMBO store that sells used and rare books, is scrambling to raise thousands of dollars to pay five years of real estate taxes that owner Yuval Gans says he wasn’t even aware of.
Gans says landlord Two Trees Management is perfectly within its rights to collect the taxes, but didn’t send out a bill until last summer, when the amount due equaled $32,000. “The landlord put the bills in a drawer and forgot to charge me,” he said. In January he received an amended bill, and now owes $40,000. He added, “My neighbors got the same thing.”
When Gans signed his lease in 2009, the taxes amounted to under $1,000 a year, he said. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, real estate taxes escalated. This year’s bill was roughly $18,000.
July starts a new fiscal year – and another round of higher taxes, Gans said. “I have no reason to assume it will be less than $20,000.”
“The owner has not raised this issue with us, but we would be more than willing to work with P.S. Bookshop to reach a creative solution to ensure that he can cover what is owed in taxes and remain in the space,” Dave Lombino of Two Trees Management told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday.
Gans said that even if the landlord offers him an installment payment plan, “these taxes are not going away.”
He hopes to raise $80,000 on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.com. Money raised beyond the $40,000 will go towards increasing business, creating an advertising budget, renovations and expanding the store’s presence online. In the first 10 days of the campaign, Gans has raised $7,000.
Gans said he had been in talks with a well-known chain to open a small, high-end coffee shop inside the bookshop to bring in more money. After originally agreeing to it, however, Two Trees “killed the deal,” he said.
“They told me they didn’t want me to compete with One Girl Cookie,” a bakery around the corner on Main Street in DUMBO.
While Two Trees is perfectly within their legal rights, Gans says that logic doesn’t make sense, given that One Girl Cookie was allowed to open after Almondine Bakery, and the coffee shop at West Elm opened after One Girl Cookie.
As Gans spoke to the Brooklyn Eagle, customers popped in and out of the shop.
“How’s the battle going?” one man asked him.
“The first few days were slow,” he said, “but after the email blast I sent and the posters, in the last 48 hours we raised another couple thousand and started getting the media interested,” Gans told him.
Gans is hoping that Two Trees will see that P.S. Bookshop is a cultural amenity for both tourists and locals.
The merchandise in the shop reflects the area, Gans said. “I buy from the people who live here – books on architecture, design, art, photography and fashion, poetry. We have a huge selection of fiction, a beautiful children’s area, out of print books, history, hobbies — all sorts of stuff. It’s dictated by what people bring and buy.”
The store has been called a “remarkable instance of a dying breed.”
“This was my labor of love,” Gans said. “I know how to build a good book store.”