Looking Back at a Decade of Demolition on Upper Orchard Street [PHOTOS]

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 at 5:00 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Kevin Gannon

It was a slow death, but Ben “Sledgehammer” Shaoul finally cleared out the small businesses operating at the corner of Orchard and East Houston. A parcel for which he paid $75 million. Now, with the wrecking ball mid-swing, and ten floors of condos (plus an Equinox gym) in tow, we got to reminiscing. Yes. It’s honestly difficult to fathom the sheer decimation this small block between East Houston and Stanton has seen in the last ten years. The cycle of demolition and construction shows no signs of abatement. Shaoul’s latest luxury imagining is but the next chapter in a Lower East Side narrative hell-bent on ruining the character and charm (not to mention affordable living) of the neighborhood.

It’s time to take a step back and identify what was lost in order to attract (and placate) the gentry. For the purposes of this piece, we’re focusing on the yardage between East Houston and Stanton. However, Orchard on down to Delancey is pretty fucked, as well.

This image has been archived or removed.

The artist formerly known as the Thompson LES arguably set the ball in motion during the winter of 2005. A row of tenements was bulldozed to make way for Pomeranc’s phallus. The hotel spent three years under the knife and opened its doors in 2007. Rebranding transpired last year when Thompson divested from the company, forcing a name change to Sixty LES. It’s still the same old story, though.

This image has been archived or removed.

Razing Allen St. for the Thompson LES, circa 2005; Photo: Curbed

Almost simultaneously, death touched a solid chunk of colorful one-story businesses comprising 176-184 Orchard Street. The same fate was extended to Luna Lounge on its backside. That sizable through-block footprint was cleared to make way for the still-incomplete Hell Building, now a Hotel Indigo. Ten years later, the building is finally showing signs of completion, and should open for business in the fall. Ownership had changed hands a couple times during its run, and the original stalled-out concrete structure was itself razed. But we all know that’s just ancient history.

This image has been archived or removed.

Upper Orchard Street in June 2004, Photo: Curbed

While geographically on Ludlow, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the three developments that also spawned in the last decade. The Ludlow, the Ludlow Hotel, and the Rat Castle at 179 Ludlow which was finally finished this year.

This image has been archived or removed.

Luna Lounge pre-demolition, Photo: urban75

Speaking of the Rat Castle, there was a time, albeit briefly, when Madonna considered opening a Kabbalah center at 179 Ludlow.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Gawker

When taken together, this assemblage of new skyline-busting developments contributed absolutely to the hyper-gentrification of the area, and arguably, the decimation of an historic part of the neighborhood.

Recent Stories

Bird Watching on the Lower East Side this Weekend

Binoculars at the ready! This weekend, the Urban Park Rangers from the Department of Parks and Recreation are hosting a birding session on the Lower East Side. The Rangers will guide enthusiasts of all levels to the best spots in the neighborhood, and the city at large, to catch fall migratory birds in action. Bring […]

Bank of America Plants itself Beside Destroyed Sunshine Cinema

With a commercial office building rising on the ashes of the Sunshine Cinema, it’s no wonder that a retail bank is moving in next door. Bank of America is planting itself in the long-fallow shop at the southwest corner of East Houston and Eldridge Streets. Work permits on file with the Department of Buildings give […]

Essex Market Shut Down for Private Maker’s Mark Event, Leaving Locals Confused [Updated]

The following guest post was written by Joshua Cohen, a Lower East Side resident and patron of Essex Market. I think the Essex Market, generally speaking, has been a great model for public-private partnerships. But last night, the Market hosted a private event for Maker’s Mark whiskey, where the local community’s interested were certainly not […]

T-Mobile is Closing its Delancey Street Store

Lots of retail turnover on Delancey Street this month. Earlier this week, we broke news of Rainbow’s imminent departure from the thoroughfare after more than a decade in the neighborhood. Today, it’s the loss of another corporate footprint. Though, one with arguably less utility. The eleven-year-old T-Mobile outpost, essentially an advertising expense for the wireless […]

Speed Cameras Installed on Pike Street

As part of the city’s push to capitalize on pedal-heavy motorists, new speed zones and cameras are proliferating. The latest in the neighborhood is outside Rutgers Houses on Pike Street. The camera box installation appeared within the last couple weeks, affixed to a lamppost between Cherry and Madison Streets. As with other locations, when the […]