‘Honest Boy Fruit Stand’ Remnants on East Houston Burned in Weekend Fire; Permits Approved for New 6-Story Building

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 at 5:18 am by

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The old Honest Boy Fruit Stand is boxed up

Honest Boy Fruit Stand was a SoHo fixture for over three decades, feeding the mass of humanity that passed through on a daily basis. But it closed at the end of last year with barely a whimper.

Its lifeless bones remained as testament to its significance in the neighborhood, even if littered with empty bottles and other refuse. There it sat. Until last weekend, when a fire of unknown origin reportedly tore through the stand. You can see the smoke-stained brickwork above the structure, and the mangled mess of ironwork that likely dates back to the 1950s.

Employees at Hollister tell us that this was really the extent of the damage, and that the blaze didn’t affect the store.

One Louis Arenas opened the business here back in 1980. Business was sustainable, yet the city tried three times to push ’em out. An article published in the New York Times in 2000 notes that the MTA wanted to convert the spot into a maintenance lot for its vehicles. “In 1984, when the Metropolitan Transit Authority refused to renew the lease after it purchased the plot, community groups saved the business. When an electrical substation was proposed in 1992, hundreds of protesters derailed the project.”

Arenas fell ill in 2004 and sold the operation to one Pan Gi Lee, who continued the tradition.

Its 2014 closure was permanent. So, after all those years, Honest Boy was finally booted. Booted by real estate speculation and ungodly worship of coin. The MTA pulled the rug, so to speak, the year before and sold the 6,190 square-foot parcel (address is 19 East Houston) to Madison Capital for $26 million. Said developer is planning a six-story commercial office building that also boasts retail on the ground floor. The finished product will carry a total floor area of 30,799 square-feet.

The fire coincidentally happened just a few days after permits were approved to begin foundation work on the new six-story building. Although, demolition paperwork for the fruit stand had been filed the month before.

Zoning approvals were also granted. This is what’s coming to this corner of SoHo…

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Photo: Curbed

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