‘The New Allen’ Moves to Samy Mahfar-donated Gallery Space on Delancey Street
SMA Equities (aka Samy Mahfar) is headlong into its conversion of 104 Delancey into a multilevel gallery dedicated to “low brow” art. The storefront is now enveloped in paint, as street artists UR New York spent the weekend buffing and spray-painting the exterior.
You’ll recall that property owner Samy Mahfar donated the available real estate to Baby Brasa co-founder Milan Kelez to house street art under the umbrella of The New Allen Art Foundation. The space has been empty and largely under-utilized pretty much since the Washington Mutual/Chase bank branch folded four years ago. Except for some Halloween stores and random art installations.
More like “donate.” It seems quite apparent that the notorious Mahfar – one known around these parts for allegedly harassing tenants in several buildings with a goal of forced exodus and rent hikes – is trying for an image makeover. Is this endeavor simply a gesture to become a local “patron of the arts” with an apparent ulterior motive to unload the space down the line?
Many feel that this artwashing is probably a ploy to get eyeballs on 104 Delancey for prospective tenants. We all know that the moment a moneybags business comes along, The New Allen would, in all likelihood, get the heave-ho.
The New Allen Art Foundation launched over the summer with a series of murals between Delancey and Stanton Streets. Kelez’s goal was to “unite a collective of graffiti artists and muralist that are transforming Allen Street into the city’s premiere street art gallery.” Guess that work ultimately led to the doorstep of one of the most hated landlords on the Lower East Side.