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Ron Castellano, Taavo Somer Partner in Jarmulowsky Hotel

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Jarmulowsky Bank building, 54 Canal Street.

There’s been some talk in the past day or so about the future of the Jarmulowsky Bank building, the beautiful 1912 landmark at 54 Canal Street.  A spokesperson for the Ace Hotels knocked down rumors that the company was involved in a hotel conversion at this location.  Today a source with knowledge of the Jarmulowsky project tells The Lo-Down that the creative team consists solely of Ron Castellano, the developer of The Forward Building, and Taavo Somer, who’s behind Lower East Side restaurants Freemans and Peels.  The source said no national or regional hospitality company is involved; the hotel will be locally owned and operated.

The Jarmulowsky building was purchased several months ago by DLJ Real Estate Partners for $36 million. The seller was Lower East Side-based property owner Baruch Singer.  He is not part of the hotel project in any way. In recent weeks, scaffolding went up around the building, as much of the preliminary work necessary to convert the property got underway.

In 2005, Castellano restored The Forward, at 175 East Broadway, to its former glory, turning the architectural jewel into a condominium building. Four years later, he helped lead a successful effort to designate the Jarmulowsky as a New York City historic landmark.  So, his involvement in the restoration of the building and its development as a boutique hotel, seems like a natural progression.

The Commercial Observer heard from a spokesperson for Freemans, who said the restaurant was not a part of the project. But our source assured us that Somer is very much involved in the conversion.

The Jarmulowsky boasts high ceilings, large windows and spectacular views in all directions.  The photos you see below were shot a few months ago from the top of the building:

Photos: thelodowny.com.

The new hotel, which has not been named, sits at the very end of Orchard Street; the blocks above Canal are currently undergoing a major transformation.  Castellano advocated for the landmarking of the Loews Canal Theatre, just a few hundred feet from the Jarmulowsky.  Some community activists have been pushing the owner, Chinatown banker Thomas Sung, to turn the abandoned theater into a performing arts center.  The presence of a new boutique hotel could be a catalyst for that proposal, as well as other development prospects in the immediate area.

For the moment, however, there’s plenty of work to do inside the Jarmulowsky.  There will be at least one restaurant in the building.  The owners have expressed an interest in creating a hotel that is welcoming to the Lower East Side community.


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  1. The Forward building renovation has indeed been transformative, but I would add that the facelift to the eastern facade of the building was not done to the same standards as the western side.  Also, more importantly, there is some serious grafitti damage on the western facade for quite some time now.  It can be seen in the Jarmulowsky photo 1 above.  The failure to remove this (and takes steps to prevent its recurrence) seriously detracts from the beauty of the building.

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