Dimes Square gets the hotel it deserves

“I won’t tell you the story of the casting, but there’s a lot of casting,” said Andrew Rifkin, standing in a room at Nine Orchard, the new hotel on Canal Street between Orchard and Allen Streets. Mr. Rifkin is also proud of custom ceramic toilet paper holders (“You need a place to put your iPhone while you’re in the toilet”), round tables in the bedrooms “everywhere we can install them. – they are hospitable”) and the Saratoga apples and water that welcome guests.

It wasn’t always so chic. Mr Rifkin, 63, is the managing partner of DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, which bought the historic 1912 Beaux-Arts Jarmulowsky Bank Building and the neighboring building (which they demolished) for $41 million ten years ago. “It was a complete wreck,” he said of the building, originally designed by architects Rouse & Goldstone.

Neighborhood gossip speculated that the 12-story building, long in disrepair, was to become an Ace hotel. “It was going to be a lot of things – an apartment building, an office building,” Mr Rifkin said. “Finally, we landed in a hotel as we watched the neighborhood evolve.”

The “evolution” of the neighborhood has been central to the history of Nine Orchard, which occupies a central position at the intersection of the Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhoods, once known jokingly (and now semi-seriously) as the name of Dimes Square. The neighborhood has become a bustling playground known for a few great bars, restaurants, and galleries with a young clientele that straddles the worlds of media, fashion, skateboarding, art, and all the other vaunted downtown pursuits. Manhattan city.

In recent months there has been a rash of new businesses, including Le Dive, a French brasserie-inspired bar and cafe on Ludlow Street, owned by Golden Age Hospitality; the new wine bar at wine merchant Parcel on Division Street; and the expansion of chef Flynn McGarry’s Gem restaurant into a wine bar on Broome Street.

Nine Orchard is the most spectacular addition yet to the neighborhood, which has previously been the subject of a piece called “Dimes Square” and thought-provoking pieces in Vanity Fair (“What Was Dimes Square?”) and The Baffler (“Escape From Dimes Square”).

If Mr. Rifkin, who wore navy shorts, a short-sleeved blue shirt and desert boots on a hot afternoon in late June, read it particularly carefully, he remained somewhat mum on the subject. of gentrification.

“The stores here are so small that I don’t think the national chain stores will be interested,” he said as two Italian-speaking tourists carrying a pocket guide to the city passed. “Look, there is a very integrated base of people living here. When I talk to the neighbors they are welcoming and happy to have something different.

Mr. Rifkin has certainly done some neighborhood outreach. Emily Adams Bode Aujla and her husband, Aaron Aujla (she from fashion label Bode and he from interiors studio Green River Project), went to lunch; Mr. McGarry of Gem spent the night; and Daniella Kallmeyer, a designer whose shop is on Orchard Street, dined in a private dining room.

Nine Orchard included neighborhood businesses including Mel, a bakery on Division Street, for cookies served at turndown service; plants from Cactus Store on Essex Street; in-room snacks from Dimes Market; and an assortment of second-hand books (“The Feminist Companion to Literature in English,” Dennis Rodman’s memoir) from Sweet Pickle Books on Orchard Street.

Mr. Rifkin also commissioned a book, “At the Corner of Canal and Orchard”, tracing the history of the building beginning with Sender Jarmulowsky, an immigrant born in Poland in 1841 who made his money selling executive tickets at premiums. reduced on ships coming from America. Eastern Europe and later founded the bank that the hotel occupies today. There’s a copy in each room, along with postcards by artist Leanne Shapton depicting the hotel in each season.

Mr. Rifkin noted that this neighborhood was where his grandparents landed in America. He grew up in Brooklyn, lived on the Upper East Side for many years, and now resides in SoHo.

He stood on the roof, gesturing towards the reconstructed 60-foot cupola surrounded by eagles that is perhaps the hotel’s most notable architectural feat. “I think we aligned that it was a tempietto,” he said. (A tempietto has columns.) “But when was the last time someone built one in New York?” In 1991, after the original was removed, a New York Times article stated that “the region’s skyline has lost one of its defining elements”.

Now Mr. Rifkin imagines someone booking dinner for 12 under the dome: “Would that be great?”

There is a small rooftop bar still under construction for events. It’s supposed to give the impression of being in a greenhouse with a trellis on the ceiling and a bamboo bar.

“We have a roof and I’m dreaming,” said Ignacio Mattos, restaurant services manager at Nine Orchard. “Maybe a real jazz bar with this view?”

Mr. Mattos, owner of the popular restaurants Estela and Altro Paradiso, and co-owner of Lodi, had been approached to lend his services to a hotel but had always refused. “It was the wrong lineup,” he said as he sat at a table in the Corner Bar, Nine Orchard’s first restaurant to open.

It is a casual restaurant, or as casual as a restaurant that offers a seafood platter that can range from $75 to $160. “When Andy approached me, it made sense,” Mr Mattos said. “When someone has that obsession and drive and determination to make it work after 10 years, that’s what I value the most as a human.”

Until recently, Mr. Mattos lived just down the street and had an idea of ​​what he liked to eat in the neighborhood and what he could bring. “I didn’t want to compete with anyone here,” he said. “I just wanted to be an addition to the neighborhood.”

Next to the Corner Bar, there will be a gourmet restaurant, Amado Grill, with a tasting menu. It will open this fall. He likens it to the kind of elegance one might have to travel to restaurants in Midtown or the Upper East Side to find.

Mr. Mattos also manages room service for the hotel. “I have to make sure the fries are crispy and hot,” he laughed. “There is beauty in the most ordinary things, and I’m looking for a way to elevate it.”

Mr. Rifkin’s idea for the hotel was a place where parents could be comfortable. “A lot of places are purpose-built, and if you’re a bit older you might not feel comfortable there,” he said of competing hotels.

The rooms, which start at $475 per night, were inspired by residential apartments with dark wood furniture and rugs and throws in shades of dark green and rust. A set of chairs in the lobby is covered in a thick wool bouclé. “A building like the Dakota was the inspiration,” he said. “I do classic New York.” Three bedrooms on the seventh floor have terraces for private outdoor space.

Instead of Bluetooth speakers, there are radio channels programmed by DJ Stretch Armstrong and Devon Turnbull (Arthur Russell was playing in a room on the fourth floor), and instead of complicated panels for lights, there’s a central pad to turn on the lights. And off. “I guess I was trying to do an analog hotel,” Mr. Rifkin said.

He commissioned a large artwork from Colombian artist María Berrío for the walls of the Lobby Lounge. It depicts two women on a boat, gazing at their homeland.

The Lobby Lounge is a sumptuous cocktail bar where the bank lobby once stood. One of its offerings is a martini service for four to six, with a samovar-sized batch of the gin or vodka version of the cocktail and side dishes of pickled onions, lemon zest, olives and a small carafe of brine. Later this summer, the bar will serve afternoon tea.

The final stop on Mr. Rifkin’s visit was a small private dining room. “That’s where the president of the bank was, and that’s where all the tellers were,” he said, pointing to the Lobby Bar. “Sometimes I just sit here.”

About Jonathan Bell

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