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NY Post
New York Post
6 Jan 2024


NextImg:Woke NYC bookstore that lured strung-out junkies with freebies faces possible eviction

The woke Lower East Side bookstore that was luring drug addicts to their storefront by pushing free clothing, food and “harm reduction services” – as well as a bathroom where they can shoot up – is facing the first step in the eviction process.

After The Post in October exposed the “zombie apocalypse” that had taken over Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey streets as a result of Bluestocking Cooperative Bookstore’s freebies – which also included Narcan, drug-testing strips and a needle drop-off bin – the store was slapped with a 15-day “notice to cure” warning from its landlord.

The notice cited violations to Bluestocking’s lease agreement, including “unauthorized use of the premises as a ‘medical facility’” and creating an “unsafe environment,” according to the document obtained by The Post.

To prevent eviction, state law says the bookstore would have to resolve the issues listed in the notice – but it has vowed to keep offering the troubling resources, one of the store’s owners, Raquel Espasande, told Curbed.

Residents of the block told The Post it resembled a “zombie apocalypse” after the bookstore began offering freebies for drug addicts.
The 15-day “notice to cure” warning from its landlord accused the store of creating an “unsafe environment.” Helayne Seidman

“It is like a magnet for drug abuse – it’s really terrible … I would rather them not be here, so them getting evicted, for me, would be fine,” Maddine Insalaco, 66, who’s lived on the block since 1997, told The Post.  

Exasperated residents like Jason Jones said they’ve often seen strung-out drug addicts smoking crack, fentanyl and injecting junk into their arms when they step out their front doors – all just a stone’s throw from a preschool – since the bookstore opened in April 2021. 

“I actually really like a lot of the things the bookstore stands for … I just feel like they are taking on responsibilities related to harm reduction that they are not equipped to handle,” said Jones, 47. 

Despite the “notice to cure” warning, the store has vowed to keep offering the troubling resources, one of its owners, Raquel Espasande, told Curbed. Helayne Seidman
Some critics of the bookstore’s harm reduction practices say that while they agree with much of what the bookstore stands for, they find it ill-equipped to handle the drug and homelessness problems. Helayne Seidman
Exasperated residents said they’ve often seen strung-out drug addicts smoking crack, fentanyl and injecting junk into their arms.

“My client and I have made every effort to amicably resolve the pending dispute with Bluestockings to avoid any potential eviction,” said landlord 116 Suffolk LLC’s lawyer, Lawrence J. Silberman. “My client simply seeks responsible and safe use of the premises for all interested parties, including the community, the neighbors and first and foremost residential tenants of the building.”

Bluestockings did not return The Post’s requests for comment.