A while back the often maligned but generally easy guy to deal with Jon B of Home/Guesthouse fame was looking for a new spot to hang his hat. I steered him into what is now the Greenhouse space. I had been designing the property for the shelter crew of Timmy Regisford and Merlin Bobb, and it turned out they needed a partner. I felt strongly that the space, which has been a nightspot since pre World War II, was ideal — an easy-to-get-to cabaret downtown with few neighbors. A home run. Jon told me I was nuts for a couple of months, but then moved in.
I didn’t end up doing the design, as Jon brought in his guy Antonio Di Oronzo. I did do much of the layout, bar placements, and such, but this award-winning design is all Jon B and his vision of a “green” club. Dipster-hipsters don’t necessarily embrace the joint, but it does make money — not an easy task — and downtowners swarm to Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch’s “Vandam” parties every Sunday. For the fashion-gay crowd, it’s the only game in town.
The area is so isolated from Manhattan civilization that it doesn’t really have a name yet. Realtors often dub it Hudson Square. I have seen HoHo, which stands for Houston/Holland, as in the Clifford Milburn Holland Tunnel. BrooHoHo includes Broome Street into the mix. North Tribeca, West Soho, and South Village are also tossed around. My favorite is WeVar for west Varrick. Whatever it’s called, it’s about to be a different hood real soon. A half-dozen or more projects in development will give Jon B’s isolated outpost some company
The well-documented Trump Soho collaboration with Miami superstars Nicola Siervo, Karim Masri, and Rony Seikaly will bring the sexy set to the hood. Quattro and all the food and beverage joints at the Trump will skew the monied jet-set crowd a little down and to the left of their current Meatpacking District haunts. Four-star chef Daniel Boulud will open on the corner just north of Greenhouse with his new restaurant. City Winery across the street is open, attracting a mixed bag of yuppies and confused revelers now … but it could easily attract dreaded promoter types to its comfy confines and make a statement. Even the Vandam Diner has a liquor license, and there’s a buzz about it too. Up the road a bit at the Sheridan Square, an Egyptian crew headed by Mino, Romy, and Greenhouse bottle host Sammy is gearing to go. This is supposed to be super hush hush, or hu-hu as we say these days. Also very hu-hu is the forgotten Movido space. It’s getting looked at, my source tells me, by a French crew. This group is giving it a shot despite being saddled with a 2am liquor license. They are trying to get the 4am working but are running into HoHo community board opposition.
That’s a lot of activity for an area without a name. Maybe that’s the way it has to be. New development is everywhere as the banks see fit to contribute cash once again. Operators must look at the elbows and corners of Manhattan where developers aren’t digging in if they are to obtain licensing and stay in business. For potential residents, this Vandam strip is a horror during the day, as hundreds of thousands of cars make their way back to mainland America. But the honking and pollution are almost gone by the time the party people are going out. Whether it’s WeVar or HoHo, it figures to be the next MePa (Meatpacking) or OuCh (Outer Chelsea) in time for Christmas. We will all ho-ho-ho-ing in HoHo.