THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Descending into Lure Fishbar, one enters a world that is at once a fantasy of the moneyed life—the subterranean restaurant’s gleaming teak panels and white leather banquettes call to mind the interior of some billionaire’s yacht—and its embodiment.
A favorite of tech and media moguls, Lure is where the city’s sleek and prosperous come to sup on $46 steamed lobster tail, socialites slurp their weight in oysters and Gwyneth Paltrow goes for dinner with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
When it opened in 2004, Lure was both the apotheosis and the seeming endpoint of Soho’s transformation from an enclave for scruffy artists into an upscale shopping and dining district. Nine years later, Lure seems, if anything, even more at one with its surroundings, a short walk from Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
So it came as something of a shock when rumors started circulating this spring that Lure was closing because of a massive rent hike. Mom-and-pops have been struggling for decades, of course, and Soho has had more than its share of casualties. But Lure doesn’t fit the profile of a beleaguered small business. Owned by John McDonald, a savvy veteran of New York’s restaurant scene, Lure caters to the kind of clientele that does not balk at paying a lot more for things they deem worthy. Moreover, it had washed into the neighborhood on the waves of gentrification in the first place.
SoHo coffee shop Everyman Espresso is shaking its fist at the NY Department of Economic Development after being forced to take down their ‘confusingly similar’ logo. New Yorkers are brewing anger over the department’s decision, turning to social media to get their opinions heard. Read More
Most couples who are expecting their first child go in for nesting, but Kanye West and Kim Kardashian seem to be doing just the opposite. First, Ms. Kardashian sold her Beverly Hills home for $5 million, then Mr. West put his Hollywood Hills home on the market for $3.3 million and now, it appears, the recording artist/producer/fashion designer also wants to sell his condo at 25 West Houston Street.
Are Mr. West and Ms. Kardashian socking away cash for the baby’s college fund? Pooling their resources for the renovation of the $9 Bel Air estate that they just bought? Or is selling off all your bi-coastal luxury real estate the rich “it” couple equivalent of painting the nursery?
Artist Cai Guo-Qiang is best known for blowing things up—he designed the opening and closing ceremony fireworks shows for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and once built a “10,000-meter barricade of fire [that] was sustained with 1300 pounds of gunpowder” in the middle of the Gobi Desert. But for the sake of his new neighbors, he might have to temper those artistic urges at home: the Chinese contemporary artist just bought the penthouse at 542 Broadway, in SoHo.
Mr. Cai and his wife, Hong Hong Wu, picked up the massive 4,120-square foot spread for $5.95 million—a price that would surely make his father, an ardent communist who “thinks Communism now is ruined,” according to his son, by the cultural and economic freedoms that the country has experienced since over the past few decades, wish for a Cultural Revolution redux.
Things are heating up at SoHo’s Famous Ben’s Pizza, and no—it’s not large pie with extra cheese.
It is, however, a large lawsuit, filed by Famous Ben’s current co-owner, John Notaro, against the pizzeria’s original owner (and widow of the real-life Famous Ben), Debbie Aliotta. According to Mr. Notaro, Ms. Aliotta violated the non-compete agreement Read More
When The Epoch Times reviewed celebrity chef Michael Symon‘s new Greek restaurant in the Flatiron District, Parea, in 2006, it wrote that it “might improve after Mr. Symon gets more experience in the New York restaurant world.” Parea shut down the next year and Mr. Symon has refocused his efforts on the Midwest and his hometown of Columbus, Ohio (he once described his cuisine as “meat-centric”), but he’s still taking The Epoch Times‘ advice to heart: he’s staying in New York.
Mr. Symon and his wife Elizabeth just picked up a full-floor unit at 316 East 22nd Street, a boutique loft building built by David Howell Design. The six-unit building went up around the time the market crashed, and the Symons’ sixth-floor unit (which is not actually the penthouse) is the first to be resold. The sellers, Neil Barve and Davray Aditi, picked up the pad in 2010 for around $2.24 million, and resold it to the Symons for $2.75 million—a tidy profit for not even three years of ownership.
They say that staging an apartment is a sure way to fetch a higher price. So imagine the markdown that Aby Rosen would have taken on his penthouse at 350 West Broadway if he hadn’t decorated the walls of the building with his personal art collection.
Records show that the 5,912-square-foot spread has sold for $17.56 million, which looks impressive by itself and not bad compared to the most recent $20.65 million asking price. But consider that the sponsor-unit was asking $26 million when it came on the market in December 2009. Either Soho’s appeal is dwindling in inverse proportion to the hordes of shopping bag-toting tourists mobbing the streets or real estate there isn’t quite as valuable as Mr. Rosen had hoped.
Now that all the neighborhood galleries have fled to Chelsea, one of the few places that you can still count on to view art is developer Aby Rosen‘s Soho condo development at 350 West Broadway.
Mr. Rosen outfitted the lobby and model unit of the high-end seven unit building with paintings from his own private collection. In the midst of a recession, not even staging the space with valuable art and sculpture was enough to move the pricey units. But what a difference a few years and a $6 million discount make: the penthouse, which was last asking $20.65 million, is now in contract.
The say that New York is not the city it once was is a statement so obvious and oft-repeated that it is all but meaningless. And yet, even for the blasé, who view negative neighborhood change as a losing battle, there are occasionally startling changes, changes that suggest the city has reached an altogether different stage in its gentrification and development.
Like the impending closure of a hip Soho hot spot that has consistently studded its small, intimate tables with celebrities over its 20-year run. And, less than a mile away in the West Village, the opening of a juice bar.
It turns out that the federal-style rowhouse at 186 Spring Street has lots of friends in high places. Unfortunately, it may not have made them soon enough.
Today, in the latest bid to save the Soho townhouse from demolition, gay rights activists and local politicians rallied in front 186 Spring Street, highlighting the building’s role in gay rights and AIDS activism. The house served as a kind of gay commune for activists and organizations in the 1970s and early 1980s.