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