LES Dwellers, a neighborhood group, is stepping up its campaign against Soho House, which has been angling for a liquor license at 139 Ludlow St., the former Nieberg Funeral Home. You can see their latest missive here (it touches on similar themes covered in an op/ed The Lo-Down published last week). In a previous article, we mentioned that Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson had decided to support Soho House in its quest to open in this neighborhood. Last night he sent us a more detailed explanation. You can read it after the jump.
After much reflection, I am in favor of Soho House.
One commenter mentioned Marcia Lemmon. Yes, Marcia Lemmon. In 1998 Marcia, Elsa Rensaa, and I got banned from attending the 7th Precinct Community Council for asking questions about all the crime connected to the new bars we were getting in the hood and for documenting the lack of response we were getting to our questions. That is when Captain Cooper informed us we live in an “Entertainment Zone.” What politicians sold us out to an Entertainment Zone? Where was “our” support in the struggle back then?
Funny, going further back, starting in 1988- and going strong till 1992- then off and on until around 1998- there was a powerful community push against gentrification. However outside of the more radical section of the hood we had little support. We were called the Rabble, Anarchists, anti-progressive.
The Democratic politicians were of no help, because they were too busy selling us out for their careers. In fact, even recently you can see for yourself who is selling us out. See Lo-Down: Lopez pushing to sell the land belonging to the Projects for luxury development. In the Villager how Mendez supported Chin’s NYU expansion since Chin was her friend. The only vote against Chin was Barron from Brooklyn- Mendez could have winked and nodded and voted against the expansion knowing full well the vote was already cooked. See Mendez and Chin supporting Quinn. Quinn =Bloomberg= Gentrification. Let’s talk politics as that is where the sell outs begin.
I have some understanding of the anti-gentrification struggle and the need to save our local history: Resistance a Radical Political and Social History of the Lower East Side; Captured a film video history of the Lower EastSside; Jews; A People’s History of the Lower East Side (3 volumes), coloring book Legends of the Lower east Side; Captured the movie directed Ben Solomon, Dan Levin ed. Jenner Furst, have a large photo/video + ephemera history of the LES.
So some of my questions related to Soho House. If not them then who? Soho House is not going to build up. They are going to save the look and integrity of the façade architecture. The fact that they are private keeps the crowds down, will be more low key… and so on. Imagine this: it is a large double wide lot- has at the very least 6 stories worth of air right to build up. Imagine a brand new 12 story luxury hotel or apartment eating up the block.
If people want change, then they have to be willing to do what it takes to make change happen. We must change our elected officials. Few people will even do something as small as leave a comment to an article- and that is not an exercise in hard work. It is easy to bitch. It is harder to do. We still have choices- do something. And as far as most of the art related comments- I moved to this part of the LES to escape the early 1980’s Soho art world type of elitism. Well that elitism is now here and I have to deal with it or leave.
In the end I will be unhappy if Soho House does not take over the property and we get some super-sized zone busting, shadow producing, luxury monstrosity that will be private just because of what it is. In the end I think we are lucky it is Soho House. It is going to be something- be-careful what you wish for.