So Much for Mahfar’s ‘Donated’ Art Space on Delancey Street

Posted on: May 11th, 2017 at 5:06 am by

It’s the former donated art haven that wasn’t.

Aside from early press hype and a few exterior murals, the former Chase bank branch on Delancey Street didn’t quite become the destination initially envisioned. So much for “The New Allen” ruling the roost.

You’ll recall that landlord Samy Mahfar “donated” the multilevel space to nascent street art organization, The New Allen, back in September 2016. At the time, many presumed that the action was simply a PR ploy for Mahfar to collect some positive points toward curbing his terrible reputation.

Instead, the space continued its role as harbor for refugees and pop-up players. Building owner (and reviled slumlord) Samy Mahfar leased the ground level last Thanksgiving, two  to a displaced leather vendor from Orchard Street. All Leather was granted temporary clemency at 104 Delancey Street to hold another perennial store closing sale. The vendor utilized the space up until last week, when it closed, finally making good on the promises of its “store closing” advertisements.

Feb. 2017

Now it’s another vacant space with artwork to help sell it.

Indeed, the New Allen, like the 100 Gates Project, is another lesson in artwashing, a verb coined to describe the phenomenon whereby street art (as street cred) is exploited to soften areas for incoming gentrification. It’s swiftly becoming an arrow in the quiver for advocates of the demolition and scrubbing of neighborhoods.

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