Classic Newsstand Gets Ready to Roll

Few newsstands merit a cameo role in a major motion picture, but the octagonal structure with a gracefully tapering roof at Columbus Circle is such an echt newsstand that Woody Allen cast it in “Bullets Over Broadway.”

“It’s like something from a Berenice Abbott photograph,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, whose agency oversees the newsstand since it sits at the southwest corner of Central Park. However, its days selling newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, candy and soda have ended. It is now being transformed to serve as an office and shop for the Bike and Roll rental operation that’s come to be a fixture in recent years at Columbus Circle.

“It’s a great way to encourage visitation to the parks,” Mr. Benepe said. The structure will shelter Bike and Roll employees dealing with customers, he said, and will carry miscellaneous items like granola bars and energy drinks. Newspapers? “I don’t know,” Mr. Benepe said. Another newsstand is one block west, on Broadway.

Parks officials recognized that Bike and Roll employees needed some shelter from inclement weather, Mr. Benepe said. The expiration of the newsstand license gave them a chance to recycle a building. Bike and Roll already holds a six-year license to operate at the entrance to Central Park and in five other city parks. It pays the greater of a flat fee ($30,000 in the first year) or at least 10.5 percent of gross revenues. In the first year, having done more than $1 million in business, Bike and Roll paid $110,000 to the city under this license. The newsstand operator paid $120,000 in the last year.

Abm Bayazid, 38, had held the newsstand license since 2007. He was born in Bangladesh, came here 12 years ago and lives with his wife and their child in Queens Village. He said the business at Columbus Circle had suffered for the two years a nearby subway entrance was closed for rehabilitation. “I lost a lot of money,” he said. Nonetheless, he said, he had hoped to renew the license, at a lower rate. The city expressed no interest in that proposition.

However, Mr. Benepe said, money is not the only criterion in awarding a license. “The primary purpose of a park concession is as a service for park users,” he said. “We thought this was a higher and better service, particularly since there is the redundancy of the newsstand across the street.”

And if “Bullets Over Broadway” is ever remade, David and Ellen will be able simply to bicycle home after the birthday party scene.

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