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More Bookstore to Move; Holyoke Center Rent Hike May Force Owner to Sell

By William E. Mckibben

The Thomas More Book Store, forced by the University to leave its old home on Holyoke St., will relocate on the ground floor of Holyoke Center early next month, but at a rent so high that the proprietors say they will be forced to sell the store within a year.

Harvard Real Estate officials told owner Miriam Donovan in early April that her 6 Holyoke St. building had been leased to an Italian restaurant and gave her until the end of June to leave. They offered to relocate her in several University-owned properties, but Donovan rejected most of them as too far from the Square.

Ashes to Ashes

When the Harvard Employment office moved upstairs in Holyoke Center recently, it created space for the bookstore, Michael F. Brewer, assistant vice president for government and community affairs, said Wednesday.

Donovan called the new location "very nice", but said "the rent is more than I can afford."

During the first year of occupancy, the University will charge Donovan $10,700. In the second year. Donovan will be charged the flat University rate, about $15 a square foot, and in the third year of the lease, the price will be $15,000 or the flat University rate, whichever is higher.

On the Market

Donovan said she already had one offer for the store, which is the only area supplier of scholarly religious material. "I feel very badly about having to sell it. because I enjoy running my own business, she said, adding that she would try to stay on as manager after she sells the store.

The store will not change--we will continue to stock the same things," she said.

An intensive letter-writing campaign and a great deal of exposure in local media, including a column in The Boston Globe by Mike Barnicle, helped save the business, Donovan said. "Things might have turned out differently without that help," Donovan said.

A Little Compromise

Brewer,appointed by President Bok to handle relocation negotiations with the bookstore, said that the solution wouldn't satisfy everybody, "but those who are genuinely interested in the bookstore will like it."

It's a high-volume pedestrian area, and a nice show-place," Brewer said, adding that being next door to the University Press should help sales at both stores.

The new restaurant, which plans to serve take-out food and liquor, will begin renovations on the Holyoke St. property as soon as the building is vacant.

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