Harvard Square Kiosk Is Sold

Out of Town News, a Harvard Square landmark showcased in everything from postcards to the opening scenes of "The Firm," is being sold to outsiders, the news-stand's owner announced this weekend.

Sheldon Cohen, a newspaperselling fixture in the Square for about 50 years, is selling the newsstand to a New Jersey-based firm for an undisclosed amount.

Known for T-shirts and a wide selection of magazines as well as the variety of newspapers from across the world that give it its name, Out of Town News was initiated in 1966 and is one of the Square's most prominent landmarks.

Cohen, known as the "Unofficial Mayor of Cambridge," could not be reached for comment at the newsstand or at his office yesterday. Out of Town News employees at the store yesterday said they had not discussed the sale with Cohen.

He told the Sunday Boston Globe, though, that the store's sale to the Hudson County News, the largest magazine and newspaper wholesaler in the country, will be concluded sometimes this week. In the article, Cohen refused to name the selling price.


The sale comes after several months of financial problems for Cohen, whosaid in court papers filed in March that his debtwas too great to handle with Chapter 11 bankruptcyproceedings and was forcing him to sell thenewsstand, according to the Globe.

Cohen will retain ownership of the Out of TownNews ticket agencies, however--which, in fact,have been the primary cause of his financialproblems, the Globe said.

Cohen and his partners have been hit by alawsuit by the MBTA, which claims it is owed feesand rents at one point worth possibly more than $1million from the concessions located on the Orangeand Red lines operated by Cohen throughpartnerships.

MBTA General Manager John Haley told the Globethat he expects a resolution of "this matter"sometimes this week.

Cohen was also forced to close ReadingInternational bookstores in Belmont and Cambridgemore than a year ago after investing severalhundred thousand dollars in their rehabilitation.

Cohen said, however, that the sale of thenewsstand has nothing to do with his pendingdivorce from his wife of 38 years, although a lienhas been put on his estate during the course ofthose proceedings.

"There are other things in life I want to do,like consulting and travel," Cohen told the Globe."Going through so many persoRTLÄthings andwondering where you're going in life, it makes youstop and think about what's important."

Cohen's daughter Marcie, his brother Fred and28 other Out of Town News employees will stay onwith new owner Robert Cohen, who has suffered somelegal problems of his own in the past.

Hudson News dominates the New York metropolitanarea with its newsstands, the Globe said. But in1981, Robert Cohen pleaded guilty to paying$37,000 in regular cash payments to DouglasLaChance, at the time president of the New Yorkare newspaper union, a 1992 article in the NewRepublic said.

Robert Cohen, who is not related to SheldonCohen, will gain the right to use the Out ofCrimsonMarion B. GammillThis Square landmark is changing hands.