Borders’ second chapter Downtown

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie
Workers stacked the books in Borders last week.

Borders is back.

Twenty months after Sept. 11, 2001, the book and music store has returned to Lower Manhattan, where its flagship location at 5 World Trade Center was destroyed as a result of the terror attack. The new store, in a historic building at 100 Broadway at Pine St., will open Thursday, June 12.

“It’s a great idea,” said Andy Conway, 57, who works for an investment firm at 100 Broadway. “I don’t have to run around if I need a book.”

The Borders at the World Trade Center was one of the top-10 grossing Borders stores in the nation, according to Ann Binkley, director of public relations for the chain. Many local residents and workers felt a special connection to the store, which served as a de facto community center and meeting place.

“They really fill a niche for Downtown, for the residential and working environments,” said Faith Hope Consolo, vice chairperson of Garrick-Aug Store Leasing, Inc. “I’m thrilled they have decided to return and return in a big way.”

Consolo said that Borders’ arrival at 100 Broadway represented a particular coup because rival chain Barnes & Noble had been negotiating to lease the same space since before the trade center disaster. Borders got a “very good deal” of about $70 per square foot, Consolo said. The chain will likely pave the way for more major retail stores to head Downtown, she added.

Bryan Evans, spokesperson for the Downtown Alliance, which runs a business improvement district, agreed.

“This move confirms the commitment of businesses to the Lower Manhattan area,” Evans said. “I think it’ll be a precedent for other businesses to come.”

At 31,000 sq. ft., the new Borders is smaller than the former 37,000 sq ft. trade center location. The store occupies two and a half floors of the landmark, 24-story American Surety Building, which was designed by Bruce Price and constructed between 1894 and 1896. The store’s open layout, a former bank space, features thick marble columns that rise to a stunning carved wood ceiling.

The inventory has been tailored to the community, Daryl Mattson, the marketing manager for Borders in Manhattan, said during a tour of the space. The business and computer sections are especially big, as is travel, a top seller at the trade center Borders. The children’s section is larger than the one at the trade center site, Mattson said, and the entire mezzanine level is devoted to DVDs.

By contrast, “The gardening section is small,” Mattson said.

Less than a week before its opening, the store awaited finishing touches like a cleaning to remove construction dust and the installation of the Dean and Deluca cafe on the ground floor. But merchandise was already on the shelves, and according to observers who work nearby, construction had progressed at an accelerated pace for the past few weeks.

Some expressed doubts that Borders would flourish in its new location, which doesn’t have as dense a population of potential shoppers as the trade center site had.

“This area, who’s going to shop here?” said James Dubin, 33, a vendor who sells photographs on the sidewalk outside of the new Borders. “All these people are just coming to work and going home. Everyone is too rushing.”

But those who do take time to stop into Borders will be rewarded with an “oasis,” Dubin predicted.

Consolo thinks that plenty of people will flock to the new store.

“Locating on Broadway, they probably will broaden their customer base,” Consolo said, to include those who live and work east of Broadway.

Joel Fraser, who works in finance for a medical center in 100 Broadway, said that for his part, he plans to take full advantage of the new store.

“I’ll do a lot of pausing,” Fraser said as he paused for a cigarette break outside the building. “ I think it’s kind of symbolic that they’re placing it here [to show] that the Lower Manhattan area is becoming revitalized.”

Borders will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is expected to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:00 p.m. on June 12th. At 12:30 p.m. on the 12th, a surprise cast member of “The Sopranos” will sign copies of “The Tao of Bada Bing,” and at 5:30 p.m. Sarah Brightman will sign copies of her CD “Harem.” On June 13th, Borders will celebrate Disney Day with a day-long program for children. On June 18th at 5:30 p.m., Tribeca resident and Daily News columnist Pete Hamill will discuss his new novel “Forever.”


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