Landmark Newsstand May Close

Out of Town News has opted not to renew its lease, the Harvard Crimson reports.

An iconic Harvard Square newsstand may close early in 2009, the Cambridge City Council learned yesterday.

The Harvard Crimson reports that Hudson News, which operates Out of Town News, has declined to renew its lease, which expires November 30. The Cambridge Chronicle adds that Hudson News has agreed to a temporary lease, at a discounted rate, through the end of January to give the city time to solicit bids from other companies.

In an interview with the Crimson, the newsstand’s general manager cited hard times in the newspaper business, compounded by a drop in sales during extended construction of a crosswalk over the summer. The manager said the kiosk leaks when it rains and needs $250,000 to $500,000 in renovations.

Trends in the wider retail sector may play a role as well. This morning’s Crimson also reported that the Crate & Barrel store on Brattle Street will close January 25, although the store manager said the closure was unrelated to a drop in consumer spending. (The Crate & Barrel building, designed by former Graduate School of Design chairman of architecture Benjamin Thompson, originally housed Design Research, his home furnishings store.)

The kiosk is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (under the entry for Harvard Square Subway Kiosk); if another operator is not found to continue the news business, one city councilman speculated that it could be used as space for a bike-sharing service.

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