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Inside The World's Greatest Church Turned Club Turned Mall

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Remember Lounge? The cheesy club-gear emporium that spent what felt like forever very dramatically going out of business in Soho? Lounge owner Jack Menashe is also the man behind the Limelight Marketplace, which opens today in Chelsea. But while Lounge was kind of a mess, Limelight is smart, crisp, and supremely well-executed. Walking around, you're constantly reminded of the history of the place: The name is a reference to its stint as legendary nightclub Limelight, and the space still feels very much like the church it used to be. But you're never reminded of Lounge, which is definitely a good thing.

Menashe has packed almost 50 shops into the former church using a clever multi-story structure. On the first floor, a walkway lined with big names like Le Sportsac, Selima Optique, and Petrossian Caviar leads from the entrance into an open space where you'll find the Havaianas kiosk and the Hunter Boots booth. Along one side of the retail corridor runs the food court, which is divided into the Sweet Room (cake, cupcakes, chocolate) and the specialty section (gelato, tea, more baked goods.) Every stand is decorated in black and white, with striped awnings and a checkerboard floor. It all looks a bit like Sephora, and it's all very crisp and sleek and professional. In the very back, the cheese wing drops the stripes in favor of a rustic, wood-beamed vibe.

The second floor consists of lots of little nooks connected by flights of stairs; the third floor is made up of terraces which the mall is calling "sky boxes." Getting from place to place, you feel like you're constantly discovering new and uncharted territory. There's the Old Hollywood booth, where vitrines of bags and jewelry from the Greenpoint store stand in front of a stained glass window. There's Zakka, where you can buy all sorts of Japanese gadgets and graphic tees in a space that feels suspended from the ceiling. There's the Mariebelle chocolate bar, which affords a view of the entire scene. And there are several different clothing stands operated by local store Lulu, including one that carries nothing but Polo Ralph Lauren.

Ultimately, what makes the place work—other than its amazing bone structure—is the retail mix. It's neither too corporate nor too indie, and the space is so unique that no one store dominates the feel of the place. For now, at least, what does dictate the atmosphere is the past. At last night's party, everyone was making jokes about the club. It's Sugar has several club kid mannequins in outfits adorned with candy sitting on top of their booth. And when the DJ decided to play "Walk on the Wild Side," it felt like some kind of poignant commentary on the Old Crazy Days.
· All Limelight Marketplace coverage [Racked NY]
· All Lounge coverage [Racked NY]

Limelight Marketplace

47 West 20th Street, New York, NY