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Library in Queens Tower Amazon Coveted Won’t Get Shelved Yet — Lease Extended

The Court Square branch of the Queens Public Library.
The Court Square branch of the Queens Public Library. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The library branch in a Queens skyscraper once eyed by Amazon will get a few months’ extension on its lease.

Library officials announced Tuesday they are finalizing an agreement that would allow them to stay in the Citigroup Building at One Court Square through the end of March of next year.

Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott said the library worked with Citigroup on the extension of the $1 annual lease, originally set to expire Aug. 31.

In May 2020, Citi, the tenant the library is subleasing from, will relinquish one million square feet in the tower, now owned by real estate firm Savanna.

“Given that Citi’s lease ends weeks after our sublease ends, we are grateful it has given us the maximum extension possible,” Walcott said. “We are deeply appreciative of Citi’s flexibility and its decades of support for our mission. We also will continue to engage with the owner of the building and others to explore a long-term solution.”

THE CITY reported last week that the branch was facing potential closure after 30 years in the Citigroup Tower — the building where Amazon had planned to occupy one million square feet until its HQ2 deal fell through earlier this year.

Library officials said Savanna was seeking market rent, a far cry from the buck a year the branch had previously been paying.

Savanna officials could not be reached for comment.

Frank Wu, president of the Court Square Civic Association, said that while he was grateful for the lease extension, it represented a “continuation of ad-hoc Band-Aid solutions.”

“More permanent solutions need to be found today,” Wu added.

“I look forward to declaring victory, along with the rest of Long Island City, when a permanent solution is in place that ensures the Court Square Library will continue uninterrupted public library service for decades to come,” said Meghan Cirrito, president of the Friends of Court Square library group.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City) said that the time granted by the extension would be used to secure a permanent home for the Court Square library.

“It gives us more time to negotiate and work that piece out which is to make sure that permanent library service is just that, permanent,” Van Bramer added. “It is not the end of the story.”

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