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This morning Limelight Marketplace—the forthcoming retail experience housed in the 163-year-old Episcopal church most famous for housing Limelight ("it" den of sin for pre-Giuliani party people)—opened its very large doors for a press preview. Hosted by Limelight Marketplace president Jack Menashe and designer James Mansour, attendees were privy to a quick press conference followed by a detailed tour of the monumental 25,000 square foot facility.
The concept was inspired by historic European landmarks famously re-purposed for the modern era. As such, the festival-themed space will host some 80 independent and emerging retailers in miniature venues (150 to 1200 square feet) based around a variety of courtyards, plantings, and roving entertainment. Small spaces will guarantee well-edited, unique stock and higher sales per square foot; and low overhead (utilities are included, cashwraps are communal, shopping bags and giftcards will be Limelight Marketplace branded) will help young businesses thrive. Essentially, retail for a new economy—a buzzy notion Menashe is banking on.
So far confirmed tenants include Hunter Boots, Sabon, 92nd Street Optical, Caswell-Massey, a J Sisters salon, Japanese skincare start-up Gold Revitalizer, Mari's Brownies (formerly a Balthazar baker), and Lil Miss Matched. Additionally, three restaurants, gourmet food shops, streetwear and sneaker vendors, and numerous jewelry designers are expected.
The most stunning aspect of the project (not that we don't love family-friendly wandering clowns and sketch artists) is the attention Mansour's design team is paying to retaining the character of the building—an 1860s Gothic revival house of worship fitted with hand-painted English stained glass. Windows, discovered in nearly-pristine condition under four layers of soundproofing and drywall, are being lovingly restored and high-lighted. Original stonework will be visible behind glass jewelry cases and beams and balustrades are being uncovered and retained as architectural elements. The whole project is being dictated by whatever designers and contractors are unearthing behind the labyrinth-like, drywall-clad chambers that Limelight, the club, was famous for.
Opening in March 2010, this isn't Patrick Bateman's Limelight; but it's a great concept, lovingly constructed, and—thank god—not a mini mall!
· RackedWire: Inside the Limelight Marketplace [Racked]
· Storecasting: Construction in Progress at the Limelight [Racked]
· Storecasting: Limelight Mall Frightens Neighborhood With Threat of Dancing [Racked]