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Despite widespread community opposition, Harvard officials announced last week they would terminate the lease of the Thomas More bookshop to make room for an Italian restaurant.
The bookstore, described by owner Miriam Donovan as one of the East Coast's only dealers in scholarly religious material, can stay in its 6 Holyoke St. location until the end of the month.
"We have a problem in getting a fair return on buildings we have leased," Michael F. Brewer, assistant vice president for government and community affairs, said last week. He added that University real estate officials are trying to find a new home for the store.
Harvard acquired the master lease of the Holyoke St. property earlier this spring from the Porcellian Club. Harvard Travel Service, a Harvard Student Agencies affilliate, has already vacated the building, slated to become the home of a new Polcari's Italian restaurant and take-out service, Sally Zeckhauser, president of Harvard Real Estate, said last week.
The lease, signed by the restaurant and the University, has an escape clause that would allow an end to the agreement if Polcari's is not granted a liquor license. Community oppostion has held up the license process so far. That opposition is "our one hope of staying where we are," Donovan said.
"People are upset at Harvard arrogance, and they're upset about the possibility of another liquor license and restaurant in the Square," she said.
"We've gotten a lot of letters," Zeckhauser said. "They have gone to all parts of the University," Brewer added, saying President Bok put him in charge of the relocation effort for the state to "show his personal interest in the situation."
Donovan said most of the sites shown her by Harvard officials are undesirable, either because they are too far outside the Square, or because the University could not promise the bookstore would be able to stay in the locations for more than a few years.
"They had a place in the Hotel Commander. That would be all right in the winter when we rely on our steady customers, but no-one shops near there in the summer," Donovan said, adding that the higher rents in most of the locations offered by the University would force her to sell an interest in the business.
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