Monday, January 11, 2016

Tammany Hall Empties Out

Last spring, Curbed reported that the Tammany Hall building on Union Square East will be topped by a large glass dome as part of a major renovation.

As you can see from the before-and-after renderings, all the small businesses currently on the first floor have been removed from the future vision.

That removal is happening.

I went by the find the owners of the magazine and smoke shop closing their gates for good.

Frank's Wines & Liquors is draped with a large CLOSING SALE! sign. Inside, I was told that "the landlord is redoing everything." They've been there at least 40 years and don't expect to be reopening.

The Trevi Deli on the corner is already gone.

Around the corner on 17th Street, the building housed two cultural institutions, the New York Film Academy and the Union Square Theater.

The Film Academy has now moved down to Bowling Green. They'd been in the Tammany building since 1994.

The Union Square Theater has also closed. Its long-running show, 39 Steps, had its last performance earlier this month.

I poked around inside to find the place a wreck. According to DNA, the theater will be gutted and "replaced with retail and offices."

It's been hosting shows since at least 1985.

What sort of businesses do you think will replace these small businesses and cultural institutions? Well, almost every single thing around Union Square Park is a national shopping mall chain. (Here's a list.) Those that aren't, like Blue Water Grill, tend to be upscale.

The Tammany Hall building was a final remnant of the old Union Square, holding the last collection of low-rent independent businesses and cultural centers on the park.

What's left?


Donnie Moder said...

Just north off Union Square, Broadway between 18th and 17th used to be quite a wonderful mix of eclectic independent stores. Now it is totally revamped upscale. The end came when Dynasty Deli an excellent corner bodega was a turned into Fresh. I thought, great some good wholesome organic food, but no, this was a high priced 'organic' perfume beauty supply chain store that I would never ever shop at or much less afford, nor get anything that is remotely fresh. Now there is a True Religion store on the same block. Again, how jeans equate with truth or religion, i don't know, but the prices are extremely high.

Scout said...

The Union Square Theatre will be greatly missed by some of us; it was a terrific intimate (but not tiny) Off-Broadway house.

Unfortunately, Off-Broadway theatre is no longer financially feasible (except for nonprofit companies, or non-verbal productions [like STOMP] designed for the foreign tourist trade and audiences too lazy to listen to words).

laura rubin said...

this is a beautiful building. the signage ruined it, trashy. i like the newer version. i feel bad they are losing thier leases. would be nice if they can stay & upgrade most of these ugly signs.

David George said...

Wasn't there a small record store, possibly where the Gift/Smoke shop is? I'm thinking 80s-90s.

Mitch Golden said...

I bet when the renovation is finished the signage is less discrete than shown in the rendering. Even the big box stores want more than that!

ooo said...

David George: Disc-O-Rama was on the block, but it was three storefronts further to the right.

David George said...

Right--I couldn't remember the name. God, all those great hole-in-the wall record stores are gone.

Ken Mac said...

Keeping it clean for the landed gentry and their evil offspring

John Charles said...

There also was once (not so long ago) a record/cd store in this building. It was a good place for browsing and also you could just walk in and tell the guy the title and he would pull it from somewhere in the back and you'd take it away. Beats amazon, guess that entailed too much social interaction for folks.

David George said...

John Charles: See above in the comments. Yes--Disc-O-Rama was great.

olympiasepiriot said...

There used to be a decent diner along that block, I can't remember if it was in that building, though. I'm thinking 1989/1990. Anyone remember?

Yeah, I liked Disc-O-Rama. There was another one on 5th Ave near the main library that I stopped in when I worked in the area.

Mileage said...

While it is not inaccurate to call this building Tammany Hall, it is slightly misleading in the sense that for most of its history (and for all its glory days) Tammany Hall was headquartered elsewhere. This building only served as Tammany Hall HQ for a few years in the middle of the 20th century

Kerry Ryan said...

The diner on that street (great metallic wallpaper) is now a children's clothing store. Just south of the building.