By Scott Enman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Tuesday, Cobble Hill residents were saddened to learn that, after 35 years, the beloved independent bookstore BookCourt would be closing its doors.
BookCourt owners Henry Zook and Mary Gannett announced in a letter to their patrons that the shop’s final day would be Dec. 31.
Unlike many retail stores along Court Street that get priced out, Zook and Gannett decided that it was time to retire.
Following the announcement, The Real Deal reported that Eastern Capital, run by Michael Shamah and Eli Hamway, had bought 161-163 Court St., which houses BookCourt, for $13.6 million.
City Finance Department Records indicates that BookCourt Inc. has owned 163 Court St. since 1984.
In 1996, BookCourt bought 161 Court St. for $499,000, Finance Department records indicate.
The addresses encompass roughly 4,575 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and four partly occupied apartments on the upper two floors.
Shamah told The Real Deal that BookCourt's space would remain retail.
BookCourt Inc.’s 2016 sale of its buildings has not yet appeared in Finance Department records.
“We want to thank our Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill neighbors for their loyal support,” Zook and Gannett wrote. “Against many odds, BookCourt grew and flourished in a time when many independent bookstores closed… We realize that BookCourt’s closing leaves a void in the neighborhood and the industry.”
Although locals were heartbroken to hear of BookCourt’s closing, there is still a glimmer of hope. Former BookCourt employee and author Emma Straub — who held all five of her book launch parties at BookCourt — wrote on her website that she and her husband are working to open their own bookstore in the area to fill the void.
“We've spent the last few months looking at spaces, getting our math together and thinking about light fixtures,” Straub and her husband Michael wrote. “We have secured initial funding and crossed our fingers. And so, dear Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Waterfront and beyond… you won’t be lonely for long.
“Books are magic, and we want to make sure that this neighborhood is positively coated in bookish fairydust for decades to come… We are working hard to make sure that our children (and yours) have new corners to claim as their own.”