Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Italian, New Italian

Since 1968 this little brick building on Grand Street was home to the De Lorenzo metalworking shop, a business that went back to 1907. It survived and thrived through three generations of the same family. They sold the building in 2008 for a large, undisclosed sum to a "developer seeking to put up a luxury condominium building."


The new building has yet to come, but the luxury has arrived. Occupying De Lorenzo's space today is something called Voce Di, "a unique space that is an equal parts furniture showroom, contemporary art gallery, interior design center and cultural events venue."

Here's what Voce Di has to say about the space:

"In 1907, the De Lorenzo family opened a metal workshop in lower Manhattan in what is now a fashionable area called Soho. The neighborhood was much grittier then, and the shop lent its service to many local companies.

A few decades later, Soho began attracting a new, creative class including emerging artists and designers. With many of them on low budgets, they would come into the shop with sketches and requests for De Lorenzo to build what they needed. According to three former employees, the workshop helped many artisans and designers in Soho launch their careers. On the last day of work, some of these grateful clients stopped in to pay their respects to Thomas De Lorenzo Sr. and thank him for all that he did.

The original sign - John De Lorenzo and Bro. Iron and Sheet Metal Contractor, which is painted blue and white over brick, is fashionably retro. Upon adding art by street artist JR to the right corner, Voce Di intentionally kept the original sign as a reminder of the inspirational story of this space."

And now you can buy a futuristic exercise bicycle for $40,000.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a luxury junk shop, who's idea was this?

SoHo Knows said...

"The new building has yet to come"

Nor is it likely to come to SoHo anytime soon.

The Board of Standards and Appeals rejected the "hardship" application by the developer to build a commercial building there about five years ago.

Anonymous said...

You know, I usually just cringe at how these "transitions" occur, but I have to say, I think this one is being handled relatively well. They are actually sharing the history and contribution of the former longstanding business, as opposed to just stripping it bare and pretending it never mattered or that nothing is being lost. Of course, that will come later, when they raze the building and replace it with condos. (Plus, that is a pretty damn cool looking bike, even if ridiculously priced)

Anonymous said...

I think differently about this type of faux nostalgia. It is the height of arrogance to incorporate someone elses century of history and hard work into your questionable scheme to profit from a space. See: fedora, minetta etc..

Authenticity is what I came here for and having experienced it in reality I cant sit back and watch our historys corpse be humped by these oportunistic interlopers any longer !

Within one short generation this city will be stripped of it authenticity and this new generation wont know the difference.

I am caught in the middle. I wish I never knew how wonderful this city once was because it is so heartbreaking to see it lost.

Pat said...

The De Lorenzo's bought that building in 1968, a few years after Robert Moses' lower Manhattan expressway was blocked from being constructed. It would have run along Broome Street a block from Grand, and I wonder what that neighborhood would have been like with it there.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:08, I can appreciate your sentiment, but given the choice btwn salvage / reuse (however inauthentic) and destruction for the sake of morality / rightness, I'll take the salvage.

See what's happening to the Kentile Floors sign right now for an example of the latter...