Pop-Up Cactus Garden, Brought to You by Boutique Hotel Developers

5 Essex St. Photo by Kate Glicksberg, via Geto & de Milly, Inc.

Announcements about pop-up plant stores aren’t usually delivered by high-powered lobbying and PR firms. But that’s exactly what we got over the weekend in the form of a press release announcing the return of the Cactus Store, a summer happening at 5 Essex St.

The site, next door to the long-shuttered M.Schames & Son paint store, is owned by DLJ Real Estate, the deep-pocketed firm turning the old Jarmulowsky Bank Building at 9 Orchard St. into a boutique hotel.

The press release from Geto & de Milly, included a quote from DLJ’s managing partner, Andy Rifkin, saying, “We are happy to support the Cactus Store for a second summer of fun and education… Bringing life, excitement, and unique experiences are important elements of our commitment to the neighborhood. We respect this community and its history and are committed to contributing positively to its culture and its future, and we expect our hotel at 9 Orchard will have a similar positive impact.”


Jarmulowsky Bank Building, June 2018.

Jarmulowsky Bank Building, June 2018.

The Cactus Store, based in the Los Angeles-area, first popped up on Essex Street last summer. DLJ Real Estate has owned the vacant lot, as well as the former Schames building, since 2012. The firm may eventually develop the site, or sell it, but for another summer at least, part of the property has been activated as an unexpected local green space. There was an opening night party Friday evening. During the summer, the store will be open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Jarmulowsky property was purchased in 2011 by DLJ for $33 million. The city landmark has been undergoing a painstaking and incredibly lengthy restoration, including the recreation of a 50-foot-high domed spire on the top of the building.

The developers are due back at Community Board 3’s Landmarks Committee June 18, where they will be going over an “amended Certificate of Appropriateness” that’s is undergoing review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Photo by Kate Glicksberg.

Photo by Kate Glicksberg.



“The Cactus Store” Pops Up at 5 Essex St., Alongside Former Schames Paint Building

3-5 Essex St., June 2017.

3-5 Essex St., June 2017.

It has been seven years since the paint store, M. Schames & Sons, relocated to Delancey Street after its longtime home was destabilized by a neighboring demolition project. It has been five years since 3-5 Essex St., the crumbling building and an empty lot, were sold. Just in the past week or so, there have been signs of life on the vacant parcel.

You may have noticed what’s happening behind that fence to the right of the old paint store. While the team working with building owners was sworn to secrecy, the short-term future of this site has now become apparent. For the next few months, 5 Essex St. will be a pop-up cactus shop.

“The Cactus Store” is a popular destination in Los Angeles. Co-owner Carlos Morera (“The Cactus Man”) was the subject of a profile in the Orange County Register yesterday. An excerpt:

(Morera) has spent the past couple of years editing and designing a photo book spotlighting (his cactus specimens), “Xerophile: Cactus Photographs From Expeditions of the Obsessed” ($65, Hat & Beard Press). It’s a compendium of photography from cactus explorers, spotlighting some of the rarest in the world. Preorders are being taken now, and the book is set to publish next month (hatandbeard.com). The book’s publication coincides with the opening of the Cactus Store’s second location — in New York City’s Chinatown — but only for five months this summer and early fall.

A peek at what’s happening behind the fencing from The Cactus Store’s Instagram:


A post shared by Cactus Store (@hotcactus_la) on

In 2012, 3-5 Essex St. was purchased for about $6 million by the same developers who are restoring the Jarmulowsky Bank Building, one of the architectural jewels of the Lower East Side. DLJ Real Estate Partners has gone back-and-forth on plans for the Jarmulowsky (it could be an office building or a hotel). Several years ago, DLJ signaled that it was in no rush to develop the Essex Street site.