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Limelight Club turns into Mall

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May 06 2010 12:24pm EDT

Back Into the Limelight

The Limelight Marketplace, New York City retail developer Jack Menashe’s latest vision for a 163-year-old former Episcopalian Church turned legendary nightclub is set to finally open this week as a boutique mall.

Menashe is hoping that his version of the Limelight will fare better than what passes for multi-store experiences elsewhere in Gotham, places like the Manhattan Mall at Herald Square or the South Street Seaport. Prudential Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo points out that these older retail venues have serious design and accessibility issues, not to mention they aren’t in prime residential neighborhoods.

Of Menashe’s concept for Limelight, Consolo said “an artisan mall gives it tremendous flexibility. If a vendor is less successful than expected, it should be relatively easy to move it out and replace with another.”

Meanashe, a 25-year veteran of New York retail, got his start with the affordable high fashion chain Bang Bang. Later, the Big Apple native with a penchant for 18-year-old scotch and classic rock opened luxury retailer Lounge Soho. And now, he’s opening a mall in aformer den of debauchery. I caught up with him days before the big opening.

Limelight’s anticipated opening has gotten a ton of press here in New York City. That’s due in part to its history, its prime location and what frankly sounds like a novel idea. Tell us about what inspired you to take on this project?

I opened a temporary shop here (LIMELIGHT) in early 2009. I put a small 8.5 x 11 sign outside, and there were lines around the corner. We were averaging 5,000 customers a day in a dark, dreary space. I knew the building offered something special. The architecture, history and maze-like layout presented a formula for something great. I traveled to London for inspiration … and came back with the concept for Limelight Marketplace.

Do artisan vendors sign a one-year or two year lease and how varying are the degrees of space they can rent?

Leases average 6 months to a year. Spaces range from a window shop just 11 x 6 feet to 1,500 square feet. We showcase all types of retailers, not just artisan/independent ones. We look for brands with a narrative that offer superior product and are visually stimulating.

Manhattan shoppers haven’t been especially nice to multi-store shopping destinations. Then again, big nightclubs in New York aren’t such safe bets either at least these days. Would you say this transformation of Limelight into a shopping experience is a safer investment than say opening the next big NYC nightclub?

First, Limelight Marketplace is more of a department store then a mall. It’s a shopping experience. A place where consumers can get lost, explore and at the same time find everything they need from hair highlights to organic food. In terms of the specific Limelight location, I have retail in my blood, and this particular space jumped out as the spot I wanted to re-create and introduce as the next generation of shopping in New York City. And, while we’ll have entertainment, we’re nothing like Limelight from the former days. We’re a family-friendly locale with amazing brands, who’ve all come together to create this new vision.

Around the holidays, we see more artisan marketplaces showing up, like the ones at Union Square or the Fall Market at Madison Square Park. What makes you think this formula can work year round?

The space itself is grand and enticing … nothing like a holiday fair. Most of our tenants are established names, J Sisters, Caswell Massey (oldest retailer in the country), Hunter Boots, Sue Devitt, and Lesportsac.

I read in one article, that you yourself had visited the Limelight when it was a club back in the day. Did you in your wildest dreams, think you’d someday transform the place into Limelight Marketplace?

Never in a million years. Life is filled with surprises.

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Written by codylyonreporter

January 28, 2012 at 1:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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