Thursday, July 16, 2009

180 Orchard Street - Former Tenement, Future Shopping Mall

At least there's no parking lot...

A rendering of the future 180 Orchard Street, posted on a concrete column in the massive construction zone between Houston and Stanton streets, looks like a strip mall straight out of Southern California: squat and long, with smooth beige walls and a pointed red roof.

After a five-year saga involving stalled construction (the half-finished skeleton of what was originally supposed to be a 22-story luxury hotel hung in limbo as the Department of Buildings sorted out a permit problem), a rumored shift in ownership, and a startling design change, local brokerage firm Misrahi Realty is now soliciting tenants for an 11,000 square foot retail center set for opening next May.

The building's future may be somewhat of a mystery (Misrahi told that the finished shopping center may not turn out exactly like the rendering), but I was at least able to dig up a thing or two about its past.

The construction site at 180 Orchard once looked much like the historic tenements surrounding it

Back in 1870, when the block was occupied primarily by Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants, the site housed a four-story tenement that made it into the New York Times after kerosene oil exploded in one of the apartments, causing a small fire and $100 dollars worth of damage. A year later, it was back in the news when a resident, Henry Lunsman, was attacked on his way home by a stranger wielding a baker's peel. (Henry walked out of a bakery without paying, perhaps?)

According to the Department of Buildings website, a new building was constructed at the address in 1900 - though exactly what type is unclear. It received a string of "unsafe building" notices beginning in 1914, a handful of complaints throughout the mid 20th century, and was leased out to several trendy boutiques and galleries in the late 1990s when the Lower East Side was just beginning to gentrify.

-Posted by Liana Grey

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