Will the Limelight Marketplace Be a Success?

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Photo: Masour Design

On April 29, what used to be the Limelight nightclub will open as the Limelight Marketplace. It's basically a mall, but possibly a mall consisting mostly of kiosks. Vendors will occupy 100-square-foot berths, and customers will pay at central cash registers if stores opt not to install their own cash wrap system. About 90 percent of the 60 spaces have been leased. Vendors include Brocade Home, which leased nine berths on the second floor and one on the first floor. Other vendors include Le Sportsac and the bootmaker Hunter.

The Limelight's signature mazelike infrastructure remains to remind people that this church used to be a nightclub. But they got rid of other nightclub remnants, like the paint on the walls in some spots, and more sadly, the D.J. booth. No one has said anything thus far about installing new disco balls.

But will the church-cum-club-cum-mall be a success? Retail broker Robert K. Futterman told the Times that it's tough to open retail establishments in historic buildings because of the laws surrounding signage, which he thinks might be to blame for no one remembering that the mall under the Plaza Hotel exists. The Limelight wanted thirteen signs out front, but they can only have eight.

However, the problem with the Plaza's mall might not only be that no one knows it's there, but also that there's nothing there one ought to know about. The one time we went down there we saw some bad lingerie, those color-saturated lightbox photographs, and overpriced handbags by a brand whose name we don't remember. None of it gave us a reason to return. Maybe all the Limelight needs is stores people care about (they already have a 24-hour Grimaldi's). Futterman adds, “But if it doesn’t feel like a flea market there, I think it will work."

The Limelight, a Church Turned Nightclub, to Be Reborn as a Market [NYT]