In a one-two punch for Nicollet Mall, the prominent two-story Barnes & Noble store on the busy downtown street is closing this spring.
The revelation comes just days after Macy’s confirmed that it will close its landmark store across the street in March.
The bookstore, at 801 Nicollet Mall, is one of the biggest stores left along Nicollet Mall and is the last bookstore left in the central business district of downtown Minneapolis, which once also had a Borders. Several months ago, publisher Milkweed Books opened a bookstore on the other side of downtown in the Open Book building.
John Ferguson, senior vice president of Golub & Co., which is one of the partners that owns RSM Plaza, the building where the bookstore is located, confirmed that the chain has decided not to renew its lease, which is up at the end of May.
He said Barnes & Noble is interested in a smaller footprint of about 14,000 to 16,000 square feet on one floor. It currently takes up about 11,000 square feet on the first floor.
“We just could not accommodate what they were looking for on that first floor,” said Ferguson. “They’ve been a great tenant for a long time. They do very well, but their business is going in a different direction.”
He added that he did not know if the company plans to relocate the store to another part of downtown.
Golub is planning to redevelop the space on the first and second floor with work expected to get underway this spring.
The Canadian firm Colliers International is marketing the space, listing 25,180 square feet of retail space available as one or a few pieces on the first two floors of the 415,000-square-foot building.
Barnes & Noble did not respond to requests for comment. A store manager at the downtown bookstore said Friday afternoon that he had only heard about the impending closure through media reports.
The rumor mill has been going strong for awhile with speculation that the bookstore, as well as the Macy’s, might close, said Steve Cramer, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
“Part of me says ‘Let’s just get it all out of the way and then figure out what the future focus of our retail corridor will be,’ ” he said. “There is obviously a new era that needs to be defined for downtown retail.”
He added that the council has a committee focused on just that topic that will continue to meet this year to figure out how to invigorate retail downtown.
One of the issues, Cramer said, is that retail isn’t always the most lucrative rental option for downtown property owners so some retail businesses may actually be successful but can’t sustain the rent.
Barnes & Noble has 13 locations around the Twin Cities.
In November, the bookseller opened one of four new-concept stores in the Galleria in Edina. The 21,500-square-foot space, nearly half the size of its previous 38,000-square-foot store in the upscale shopping center, has a full-service restaurant and bar aimed at getting shoppers to linger.
It is one of four such prototypes around the country that Barnes & Noble is testing as a way to make the chain more relevant as it fights to stay afloat amid fierce competition with Amazon.com.
On Thursday, the company reported a 9.1 percent drop in comparable store sales during the holidays. Online sales were up 2 percent. The company blamed the lower sales partly on the decline in the coloring book trend from last year and the fact that there was not as big a blockbuster album as Adele’s “25” from 2015, which was the company’s biggest selling CD in its history.