New York

La Lunchonette Revisited

In 2015, the Chelsea restaurant La Lunchonette was forced to close, thanks to the High Line Effect. It had been in business there, and beloved, for 26 years.

The building was slated to be demolished, along with a former horse stable built in the 1880s, for a tax-supported, 10-story luxury condo made of wood, from SHoP, architects of the Barclays Center. Then the restaurant’s former space showed up for rent.

Earlier this year, the developer scrapped plans for the luxury tower, blaming a downturn in the luxury condo market. “The project just wasn’t feasible,” he told The Real Deal.

And now?

A deli called Chelsea Square Market has opened in La Lunchonette’s former space.

So the buildings get to live another day and the space isn’t sitting empty, contributing to high-rent blight. It didn’t turn into a chain store, either. But if I had to guess, I’d say the market’s lease is likely short, that it’s a temporary place-holder until the developers figure out what to do with their parcel.

And doesn’t it seem a waste? All this time, La Lunchonette could have remained in business.
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