With Demolition on Deck, Fire Sparks at Former Moscot Building on Delancey Street

Posted on: December 30th, 2016 at 5:13 am by
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Early Wednesday evening, there was a fire in the commercial space of 86-88 Delancey Street (aka 118 Orchard). The blaze was quickly extinguished, and plywood shed inserted to protect passersby from the damage. To be honest, the incident is just the latest contribution to the demise of this corner, formerly home to MOSCOT. If the building wasn’t ready for demolition and reconstruction before, it sure as shit is now…

You’ll also recall that the city was caught red-handed with yellow paint back in September. Foot soldiers of the graffiti squad saw fit to paint over the sanctioned scrawls commissioned by outgoing Wallplay that operated here for the last few years. Two months prior, the creative agency hosted a so-called graffiti goodbye as send-off to its home of three years. The exhibit, dubbed “Exquisite Corpse, was spearheaded by graf team Mint & Serf, and completely transformed the former MOSCOT headquarters. Dozens of street writers and artists were invited to tag and re-decorating the premises, both inside and out.

Mass Appeal reported at the time of buffing…

According to the city, someone reported the public art to 311, setting the buff into motion. However, when the agency that assists with graffiti abatement pulled the building’s file it went off the old owner’s info. “We know that graffiti can take the form of public art, not just vandalism, and we make every effort to alert property owners before dispatching a crew to clean a building,” writes a representative for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “In this instance, our crew didn’t recognize this as commissioned work, and we had a standing waiver on file granting the city permission to immediately remove any reported graffiti from the property.”

The quality-of-life erasure certainly ruffled feathers in the graffiti community, especially Mint & Serf, and spawned a deluge of posts on social media. Nevertheless, several months and re-blogs later, the yellow space has returned to a graffiti target. It’s been hit numerous times during the interim and will soon echo what was there before the buff job.

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Photo: SWA Architecture

Not that any of this drama, fire or graffiti, really matters. The building has a death warrant, as the city apparently approved demolition activity in October. And we’ve already spotted workers on the roof with hand tools. In its place, new owner-developer Helm Equities will construct a 120-foot luxury tower with 29,437 square-feet of total floor area split between residential and commercial. There are twenty-four rentals – floors three through eight will carry three units each, with duplexes rounding out floors nine through twelve. The ground-level retail space is 5,769 square-feet, and zoned for “use group 6,” which includes a restaurant. There is also a rooftop “recreational area” listed in the proposal.

Plans for the new building are still pending DOB approval.

Helm Equities (aka David Escava) purchased 86 Delancey (aka 118 Orchard) in 2012 for $4.8 million. This transaction was the proverbial nail in the coffin that forced Moscot across the street a year later. (It had been there since 1936.)

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