The Lower East Side has been thoroughly gentrified for the better part of a decade, but in recent months even tenuous ties to the neighborhood’s scrappy past have been severed by the closures of several standbys and, more glaringly, the construction of boxy hotels, including a Marriott and a Holiday Inn.
“Another day – another hotel nearing completion,” reports LES blog The Lo-Down in a story about the Fairfield Inn‘s application for a liquor license at this month’s Community Board 3 meeting. Fairfield Inns are the budget wing of the Marriott empire. When this seven-story, 90-room branch opens within the next three months at 95 Henry Street, right by the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge, it will house a restaurant open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.,that will, with any luck, serve beer and wine.
It will compete with the Holiday Inn that opened late last month at 150 Delancey Street to little fanfare and surprisingly muted anger. It was developed by Sam Chang, whom the Times in 2009 called “the hotel king of New York” for his deep roster of low-cost, often chain, lodgings. The eight-story hotel has 132 rooms and The Retro Bar & Grill.
Meanwhile, those in the mood for a retro tour of the LES’s grungy past have lost two remnants of the neighborhood’s hip ’90s heyday: the French bistro Pink Pony and the rock dive Motor City Bar both shuttered, or announced closings, on Ludlow Street this past winter.
When did the LES turn into Midtown? And could the day come when guests at LES hotels have little to see in the neighborhood but other hotels? All told, The Lo-Down counted 13 hotels either being proposed, under construction, recently opened or about to open. At least cutting edge art occasionally peeks from behind the chintzy curtains at these new arrivals. Last year, the renegade art fair Dependent descended on Ludlow Street, taking over a Comfort Inn.
[Update: An earlier version of this story reported that Motor City Bar was closed. It's still open, but will close by June.]