Overbuilt and Underwhelming ‘Orchard Street Hotel’ Announced in Hell Square

Posted on: March 24th, 2015 at 9:22 am by
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A great Gatsby this hotel is not. Rather, 163 Orchard is yet another Lower East Side lodge ruining Hell Square. And now it carries a new name. No longer evoking the fictional character of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the establishment is hereafter known as the Orchard Street Hotel. Pretty clever, huh. The branding was installed above the namesake entrance last week.

Nico Moinian (son of clothing merchant and real estate tycoon, Morris Moinian) and partner Nader Ohebshalom comprise the team behind this fifty-room blight. From what we understand, their mission is targeting the young “tech savvy traveler” without a large budget, a demographic that is likely under 21. This didn’t help the cause to obtain liquor privileges.

Moinian and Ohebshalom previously sought a hotel liquor license from Community Board 3 on several occasions to provide an “amenity for its guests.” Plans changed slightly with each appearance, but their persistent unpreparedness revealed the bush-league nature of what they wanted here. Their attempts to install three separate drinking areas, including the lobby and 1,300 square-foot basement, proved futile. New York State Alcohol Beverage Control Law dictates that hotels without a restaurant and full kitchen cannot apply for a hotel license.

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Not to mention, the eleven-story Orchard Street Hotel is technically overbuilt based on current zoning. The second floor “unenclosed arcade” (i.e. sitting area) – pretty much open to the elements – is a problem. If ever enclosed, it would add to the operable floor area, and therefore be considered overbuilt. Therefore, the space has the potential to add additional noise to the neighborhood echo chamber. Can you imagine if Moinian had obtained approval for a stand-up bar in this spot during his first CB3 appearance?

For the last six years, construction activity (on and off) plunged this bereft stretch of pavement into the shadows (tenements were leveled in 2008). That concluded in December.

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Demolition of 163 Orchard, August 2008

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