In a last-ditch attempt to fend off the city’s request to designate the Strand’s 1902 building as a landmark, the owner of the famed Greenwich Village bookshop is offering to place a historic preservation easement on her storefront.

Similar to landmarking, a preservation easement, which is the result of a voluntary agreement between the owner and a nonprofit group that would serve as a steward for preservation, would ensure that a building (or its facade, in this case), be preserved in perpetuity.

“So Landmarks, it’s up to you,” said Nancy Bass Wyden, the Strand’s owner, during the second and final public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday morning. There were around 50 people on hand for the hearing.

Wyden, who said she had consulted numerous preservation experts, first approached the commission with the idea on Friday, according to her attorney Alexander Urbelis.

The Strand owner has been imploring the city not to follow through with its plans since last fall, when the building, which sits at 826 Broadway, was one of seven on Broadway south of Union Square chosen for landmark status consideration. She believes such a designation would wind up being a costly burden to a retailer with already thin margins.

“No business wants to be an easy mark for city bureaucracy,” Wyden, whose grandfather opened the Strand in 1927, told the commission.

Her proposal suggests that she would rather work with a nonprofit preservation organization than the city. But in a sign that she faces an uphill battle, Sarah Carroll, who serves as both the chair and a commissioner of the LPC, said that the commission has not viewed a preservation easement “as a favorable substitute for designation.”

Among those who spoke at the hearing, Jacqueline Peu-Duvallon, a preservation consultant and former member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, warned Wyden that preservation easements can often result in "more rigid" guidelines than those imposed by city landmark status. “A façade easement would prevent them from making a lot of substantial changes to the storefront,” she said.

Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation who was also present at the hearing, told Gothamist that while Wyden had approached him prior to the hearing about the idea of placing a preservation easement, he was unable to comment on the plan without knowing more details.

Preservation easements are used across the city, both in buildings and sites that are and are not landmarked, he said. He added that some easements can be highly restrictive, while others less so.

Despite supporting the Strand’s landmark designation, Berman has sharply criticized the commission for failing to install broader protections for historic buildings in the area, accusing the city of “cherry picking” properties that are currently under no development pressure.

On Tuesday, Berman said the commission’s selection of the seven buildings was "the result of a privately-negotiated deal" between Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Mayor Bill de Blasio. In August, the City Council voted unanimously to rezone a site at 120 East 14th Street to pave the way for a 21-story tech hub. Berman, along with other preservationists and residents, had opposed the rezoning, arguing that it would pave the way for further commercial development south of Union Square.

In response, Jeremy Unger, the communications and legislative director for Rivera, issued the following statement to Gothamist:

As Councilwoman Rivera summarized in her testimony this morning to LPC, this group of designations was identified by LPC as a result of repeated requests from Councilwoman Rivera and the community to study the area south of Union Square, the boundaries of which neighborhood organizations and preservationists like GVSHP helped delineate based on the wealth of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture. While Councilwoman Rivera is proud that seven buildings along the historic Broadway corridor are being considered, she is ready to keep working to have LPC reconsider the merits of designating additional blocks.

Berman’s group had identified 187 historic properties and urged the commission to designate the entire area as a landmark or historic district. But the commission declined to do so, saying that the other buildings had undergone renovation and the designs did not provide observers with a “strong sense of place.”

Urbelis, Wyden's attorney, said that despite all their efforts, city officials and the commission failed to reach a compromise on the issue.

“We made great strides in proposing this workable solution,” he said after the hearing.

The commission has until the fall to make a decision. As with the first public hearing in December, dozens of Strand lovers lined up to speak in support of Wyden and her bookstore.

Naomi Wolf, a journalist and author, was also in attendance, and asked whether the commission had adequately considered all of the public support for the Strand. The storeowner had submitted a petition with over 6,000 signatures. "I'd like to understand your metric for understanding public support or opposition," she said.

Kilian Ganly, a longtime Chelsea resident, began his testimony by saying that, as the owner of a landscape design business, he had dealt with the Landmarks Preservation Commission and experienced a costly delay. City officials have repeatedly said that the cost and red tape involved in maintaining a landmarked building would be minimal.

But like others, Ganly mainly spent his time professing his love for a New York institution that he worried was at risk of disappearing.

“It would be a tragic blow against intellectual culture,” he said. “Where would we be without books?”