The last time we saw meat in the Meatpacking District was at Interstate Foods before it closed. But there's a yellow-brick, block-sized cluster of buildings on the farthest western edge of the neighborhood where meat can still be found swinging on hooks. It is a rare sight.
The Weichsel Beef plant is here--on West Street between Gansevoort and Horatio. They've been in business for over 70 years. NY City Watch reported that Weichsel's owner, Sam Farella, had just "a few more years left on his lease." That was in 2009. "This is my home," he told the Daily News this year, but that home is being surrounded fast.
A few doors south, on the Horatio corner, Bakehouse bistro is getting ready to open in another week. The Bakehouse people say it's going to be "the biggest mom-and-pop operation in the West Village. It’s going to boast a bistro, full bar, retail and wholesale bakery." Usually, "big" is the opposite of "mom-and-pop," but that term is really being stretched these days.
A peek inside reveals 3,500 square feet of old-timey, artisanal-style "simplicity." Big rustic wood tables, subway-tiled walls, antique bakery signage. That sort of thing. Just like old mom and pop.
Around to Weichsel's northern flank, 95 Horatio is renovating with a wall full of plywood that will soon be glitzed and glassed and filled with shops like Intermix: "An additional conversion of the building’s parking garage will add another 10,000 s/f facing Gansevoort Street, close to the new Whitney Museum... that space could house one to three tenants, and a high-end restaurant would be a strong candidate for the space, complementing the Whitney’s café."
Directly across Gansevoort from Weichsel, the new Whitney Museum has already broken ground. The last of the old buildings there have been demolished, and cranes are lifting and banging away. Meatpackers sit in the shadow of Weichsel's battered awning, their smocks bloodied, watching the future come barreling at them.
To review: MePa begat High Line, and High Line begat Whitney, and Whitney is begetting what is certainly the death of the last meatpackers in the Meatpacking District. Really, how long will the newcomers to this once-forgotten corner on the edge of Nowhere tolerate a view of hanging carcasses? Weichsel is being squeezed from every side.
For a little while longer, here by this lonesome loading dock at the city's margin, you will find the remnant of an urban feeling, a stevedore aroma of blood and guts, as you stand between the meat and the river. Seagulls complain overhead. Flies buzz. Men sit on folding chairs and smoke.
If you want to feel it, go soon. The tourists and the toddling Louboutin girls and the boutiques and the bistros are zeroing in on this spot, coming like a wave to wash all of it out to the Hudson, off Manhattan and gone. That wave never stops. It vanishes everything in sight. It's only a matter of time.
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Meatpackers and Meat