Lounge Takes Up Temporary Residence in Limelight Space

imageI’m not fully recovered yet, so my entries will be much shorter and less informative, and some will find that refreshing. People passing by the old Limelight space on 6th Avenue were surprised to see a large sign and flag that said “Lounge.” As reported in the Observer a few weeks ago, this is a temporary outlet for the store which used to be on Broadway and Houston. Lounge’s run is almost up, and Joe Dirosa of the New York Artists Series informed me that he will be booking the historic space. “The people from Lounge are in there currently doing a clearance sale for the next several months. I spoke with Ben Askenazy and Jack Menash, the owners of Lounge, and we agreed to make the space available for rental for events, including fashion shows, filming, photo shoots, and branded experiences, so the New York Artist Series is marketing and booking the space.” With landmark status preventing most things from happening there, the ex-Limelight will earn its keep in the arts, and this makes me feel great. Despite its less-than-savory end, Limelight was one of the great clubs, and I hated seeing it dormant for those many years.

Joe Dirosa continued, “The future of the space is uncertain. We are making it available in a raw state for things like the Stoli Hotel, House of Campari, or Bacardi Beach, where brands come in, take a raw space, and keep it for several weeks doing different events. They can come in and paint it and really decorate the space with their own branding, etc. It’s a great location for that type of use.”

The talk of condominiums doesn’t make much sense, since there are no windows (except of course the Tiffany stained glass). I always felt that a hotel should be built above it with the old church/club housing the lobby/reception and restaurants. The Observer article pointed out that a great deal of the people walking in to the Lounge installation weren’t interested in shopping but were just looking around at the old beauty. I met my second wife there, and it has other great and also not-so-great memories. I wonder what they will call it?


Good Night Mr. Lewis: Art Shuns Overpriced Limelight for Quirky Soho Digs

imageThe deal between the New York Artist Series’ head honcho, Joe Dirosa, and Limelight landlord, Ben Ashkenazy, has fallen apart. Instead, NYAS will land at 54 Crosby Street. A deal is in place with Pep Reality to create “a space for special events, filming, and branded experiences;” the space was formerly owned by artist Arturo Di Modica, who designed the Wall Street Bull. I looked at the space a couple of times with clients, and it’s over the top.

Dirosa believes Ashkenazy backed out of the deal “because of press.” The rent of $2.4 million a year seemed high to me, considering the negative history of the place (i.e. Limelight and Avalon). Joe told me, “the space hasn’t really made money in 15 years and he only paid $3 million, so to pay $2.4 a year plus taxes and expenses was completely unreasonable.” I think Joe’s a little wrong about his history — Limelight made lots of loot about a dozen or so years ago, but let’s not nitpick.

Joe continued, “I thought it could be a great spot for the New York Artist Series for the next 100 years or longer … I tried to explain that it would be a great win for the city to put the New York Artist Series there and do filming, special events, fashion shows, and concerts — even an art gallery on the side and have the place a center of culture for the city. Unfortunately, $2.4 million was unreasonable for a space, which is much smaller than people realize, and that two clubs paying probably less than half of that couldn’t succeed in. I asked what it would cost to buy the building before our agreement and was told $40 million, which I thought was way too high. After all the press, I asked about buying the building again and he raised the price to $60 million. He was being really difficult.”

As for the new spot on Crosby, Dirosa remains enthusiastic. “I am really excited about this space — it’s got great culture, three floors, and is really unique. It even has a waterfall.” And he won’t be fighting the ghosts of nightclubs past.