Hopkins' Bibelot deal dead Barnes & Noble objected to bookstore near campus

March 09, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The Johns Hopkins University has scrapped plans to open a Bibelot bookstore in renovated, university-owned apartments across from its Homewood campus because of strong objections from the operator of the on-campus bookstore.

The university's decision has led Manekin Corp.to pull out of a deal to handle leasing of newly created retail space at Homewood Apartments in the 3000 block of N. Charles St.

The Manekin company had intended to take over and manage the 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space in the first half of this year. That would have included Bibelot and a few smaller stores.

Now, two months after a major renovation of the building, with 160 student apartments, the new ground and terrace floor retail space remains vacant.

The real estate director for the university, John Davis, said he and other Hopkins officials decided their long-term relationship with Barnes & Noble College Bookstores Inc., which runs the campus bookstore in Gilman Hall, precluded approval of a competing bookstore chain on university property.

That broke the deal, according to spokesmen on both sides.

In explaining Manekin's decision to withdraw, Davis said, "Without an anchor they could count on [Bibelot], there was too much risk."

Stan Frank, a spokesman for Barnes & Noble in New York, said the company registered a protest after learning about plans to open another bookstore a short walk across North Charles Street.

"We were not pleased that the university was planning to open another bookstore near the campus," said Frank. "It would have no doubt affected some of our business." Barnes & Noble runs 300 campus bookstores across the nation.

Donald Manekin, a partner and senior vice president at Manekin Corp., said the Baltimore real estate development company concluded the project would not be financially feasible without leasing most of the space to Bibelot.

When Hopkins sided with Barnes & Noble, Manekin said, "That changed the dynamics of the deal dramatically. So it was in the interest of the university and Manekin to part company amicably."

Frank, the Barnes & Noble spokesman, said the planned Hopkins-Manekin deal did not directly violate the bookstore's contract with the university. But after Barnes & Noble objected, he said, "The university made its own decision."

Davis, the Hopkins official, described Manekin's decision to cancel the deal as "somewhat of a surprise."

He said the university is looking for three to five retail tenants in the Homewood Apartments.

"Our goal is to get some activity in the next couple months," said Davis.

Pub Date: 3/09/98

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