A new building is rising in the Meatpacking District, stretching across the block from 410 West 13th to 15 Little West 12th, where now a big dirt hole sits and waits.
They tried to make it bigger, but luckily that didn't fly in the Historic District. Approved, somewhat begrudgingly, by the HDC, it's being sold as an "incredible big-box opportunity." Just perfect for a flagship. What do you think? Blue and Cream?
The architects' renderings show the building filled with high-end retail, people in black, shiny people with handfuls of shopping bags, and always some sort of Jaguar or Porsche parked outside. They note that the building has been "designed to echo and honor the neighborhood's gritty past, harmonizing with the adjacent industrial vernacular."
I find something troubling about that language, the way "grit" has been co-opted for use as a selling point. A past once accessible to many gets sanitized and turned into luxury style for the very few. It's what Varvatos has done to CBGB. It's a Disney idea pumped up with money steroids. "It looks real, but it isn't," they say, "It's better than real." Where's Baudrillard when you need him?
As for what's left of the "vernacular," a ragged tooth stands amid the vanishings, shivering with fear, knowing it only has so much time before it, too, is pulled. Trust me, in a few years, there will nothing original in the Meatpacking District, all of it a purified reenactment of what used to be.