The Tale of Two Hell Square Hotels: Indigo and Gatsby

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 at 5:44 am by

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Reception area from Ludlow entrance, Photo: CB3

At the head of Orchard Street, it’s essentially a tale of two Hell Square hotels, featuring elements of Indigo, Britney Spears, and Gatsby. Kitty corner apart, Hotel Indigo is squaring off against the dark horse of 163 Orchard. Both devils are vying for liquor licenses in an already saturated environment.

Finally nearing completion, 180 Orchard could conceivably reverse its namesake role as a Hell building. Despite having decimated the block – pushing out business and residents alike – during its ten-year construction period, the future Hotel Indigo will be held to a much higher standard. For starters, we are told it’s a union hotel; none of the other area lodges are union. Furthermore, the epic eyesore sits in the stable of multinational InterContinental Group, and must therefore adhere to a consistent brand image. There’s a decent chance that corporate won’t allow shenanigans on its watch.

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Inside the Orchard Hell Building

We are told that ICG’s Hell Building is also working diligently and earnestly with residents to forge an agreeement regarding the obligatory on-premise liquor license. They’re also taking neighbors on tours to address potential questions.

According to application materials on file with Community Board 3, there will be food and drink on the fourteenth and fifteenth floors, the latter being a 200-seat restaurant (with a pool on the deck). Both establishments are to be operated by the Gerber Group, which boasts 21 venues including Whiskey Blue and the Stone Rose Lounge.

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Seemingly on the opposite end of the spectrum is 163 Orchard Street, currently seeking a full liquor license. We hear a rumor that the hotel trade name is “Gatsby.” The dude behind this project is Nico Moinian, son of clothing merchant and real estate tycoon, Morris Moinian. There is great concern that this might be a loose-run ship, a “let me follow in dad and brother’s (Joseph of Hugo Hotel) footsteps” project.

Sitting unpretty at eleven stories, the fifty-room Gatsby is actually an “overbuilt” hotel based on the current zoning. From what we understand, the second floor “unenclosed arcade” (i.e. sitting area) – apparently open to the elements – is a sticking point. If ever enclosed, it would add to the operable floor area, and therefore would be considrered overbuilt. But who would regulate?

As for the liquor license sought, these guys want to have privileges “24 hours 7 days per week,” including a rooftop bar. The neighborhood should take note that Moinian’s partner in the nightlife component is Nader Ohebshalom, known for buying up rent-stabilized buildings and allegedly booting the regulated residents. Not really living up to his last name, which is Hebrew for “love peace.”

Fun fact: Britney Spears sent Nico Moinian a “sexy video” for his bar Mitzvah. Papa had been her partner in the disastrous Nyla restaurant.

Both applicants will be under the micrscope next Monday.

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