It's been a long five years for the Lower East Side's most devilish construction site, the giant lot on Orchard Street (between Houston and Stanton) that's been a shitshow for eons now. But with today's reveal of a spaztastic new rendering posted on the site—a rendering that promises to bring a suburban strip-mall aesthetic to the LES like we've never seen—we thought the time was right to look back, fondlyish, on a little project we like to call the Orchard Street Hell Building.
Follow along in the photogallery above while we stroll down memory lane:
June 2004: News breaks that the single-story strip of stores on Orchard Street will be demolished to make way for some unidentified apartment building. Yay!
Late 2004: The block is, indeed, demolished. Babies weep.
2005-2006: Memory's a little hazy here, but pretty sure it was a giant pit for most of this period. Confirmations encouraged.
February 2007: The first rendering of the apartment-building-to-be is hung on the construction fence, taunting Orchard Street anew.
August 2007: A Hollywood film crew (for a movie that would turn out to be You Don't Mess With The Zohan) hangs a fake rendering of a mall on the edge of what was then a gaping pit. This is interesting and amusing because the new rendering also looks like a mall! Except it would be a real mall.
July 2008: After a year of halting construction, word hits that portions of the already-built Hell Building are being dismantled. That can't be good! Indeed. A worker on-site at the time told us "there's a different design now," and that rumored faulty concrete would be staying put. How we concluded our item: "Our assessment: expect 3-4 more years of headaches and delays."
August 2008: The project screetches to a halt. The site looks virtually identical today as it did then, except for...
April 2009: An amazing new banner is hung on the building revealing an amazing new design!
So amazed are we by this new design that we picked up the phone and gave the folks at LES brokerage Misrahi Realty—the creators of the sign!—a call. The forthcoming fellow we talked to described the rendering as "a rendering of what could be, but it won't necessarily look like that." And from what else he said, sounds like it won't: "The building for the time being is going to be finished as a one-story structure so we can rent the ground floor to retailers. It's hard to get money in this environment, so we're going to do that and wait for better times." Asked if the one-story plan would leave that rebar soaring into the LES sky for the foreseeable future, our man said no: "We're going to cap it off and make it look nice." Either way, expect construction on the site to resume shortly: "We're starting to put the storefront in this week or next week."
So, to recap: it's taken five years for the developer to tear down a one-story block of successful stores, all to build—a new one-story block of stores. And people ask why we love the Lower East Side.
· All Orchard Street Hell Building Coverage [Curbed]