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Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Room of One’s Own, other local businesses forced to relocate as developer plans new apartment complex

The Core Spaces development company is planning a 10-story apartment building to take over most of the 300 block of State Street, which if approved would force the closing or relocation of some of State Street’s most beloved local businesses, like the bookstore A Room of One’s Own

The redevelopment would be one of Core Spaces’ largest housing projects to go along with high-rise downtown apartments like the James and the Hub. 

Independent bookstore A Room of One's Own, Community Pharmacy, PowerNine Games, Casa de Lara and the Red Rock Saloon will be among the local businesses affected, if the plan is approved by the city’s Plan and Urban Design commissions and the City Council, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Core Spaces have said they are helping those businesses find new locations as development plans continue.

A Room of One’s Own, which opened in 1975, has been doing business downtown for 46 years, and leaving the space will be difficult, owner Gretchen Treu explained in a piece for Tone Madison.

"My kid Oliver said something really sweet, like, 'I want to leave this heart I drew on the bookstore because I know we're gonna leave this space and I want it to remember me and how much I loved running around the bookshelves,'" Treu said. 

The bookstore has been a place of political and feminist expression, and has impacted the community not only on a local level, but national level as well. According to Tone Madison, Room Staff member Misian Taylor started a nationwide movement, Bookstores Against Borders, to raise money for the immigration legal-aid organization, RAICES. The support began with just A Room of One’s Own, but after recognizing the impact of the campaign, dozens of small bookstores and publishers nationwide helped to raise more than $100,000. 

A Room of One's Own has touched the lives of many of its customers, and fans of the store took to social media to lament the end of the shop’s downtown location. They plan to move to the East Side of Madison, but a location has not been revealed yet. 

The staff thanked their customers in a statement on Instagram

“As ever (and ever) thank you for your bookish love and wonder. Thank you for your support,” they said. “Your support through the pandemic has made some difficult decisions easier to make.”

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