Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eastern Standard Time

For nearly a decade now, every year when I visit the "old neighborhood" I stay at The Standard Hotel up on Sunset. (Mark your calendars, friends: we're coming at the end of March!) The price is right, the location is perfect and the restaurant is fab. On top of that, the rooms are big and comfortable, and the swimming pool (complete with ping-pong table!) is about the greatest place in L.A. to spend your weekday afternoon. (Boys, boys, boys!)

Breakfast at the 24/7 Restaurant circa 2001

So I was intrigued when I read that Andrea Balazs, the man behind the Standard as well as its upscale sibling the Chateau Marmont in L.A. and the Mercer here in Manhattan, was opening a location here in New York. The Observer had a great article about its construction last week (it doesn't seem to be online, however), but in it Balazs talks about how he wrapped things up just before the credit crisis struck, and how the Standard New York will likely be the last major project completed in the city for years to come.

Although I live only a few short blocks from it, I rarely set foot in the Meatpacking District these days because -- as many of you know -- it's gone from being a, well, an actual meatpacking district peppered with dive gay bars and tranny hookers on every corner to a "Sex and the City"-ified upscale tourist trap. I have nothing against urban renewal, but when it fills my neighborhood with a bunch of drunk douche-bags every night of the week, suddenly gentrification becomes a dirty word.

Even so, after reading the Observer piece, Michael and I decided to take a stroll over there to check out the progress. So far, Balazs, below, reports that only four floors are up and running, along with the funky lobby. (I believe the restaurant is set to open soon.)

Although it's still in transition, I liked what I saw and would definitely steer my friends in that direction, if only so I could have easier access to the amenities. The unusual elevated design allows for passage of the famed High Line, an abandoned 1.45 mile section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line that runs along the lower west side of Manhattan between 34th and Gansevoort streets. The High Line was built in the early 1930s by the New York Central and has been unused since 1980. Wild grass and plants grow along most of the route and plans are now under way to turn it into an elevated park along the lines of the Promenade Plantee in Paris.

As we were heading back to my apartment walking past the glam Gansevoort Hotel and all of the schmancy restaurants, I couldn't help but smile thinking about that funky loft-style apartment above the market on 14th Street (see black arrow, above) I was seconds away from signing a lease on back in '98. The place was really cool -- everything was brand new and the upstairs sleeping area had a nifty skylight above it, which would have been great for getting my nightowl ass up back when I worked days. But the building's entire staircase and hallways were collapsing, so they were giving a "discount" on rent (no word on funeral home discounts!). I also couldn't help laughing remembering what used to be in the restaurant just across the street (above, behind where the cars are parked). When I see people outside there eating their brunch and drinking their $18 cocktails, it's all I can do but tell them that their food is being prepared in what used to be Jay's Hangout, a notorious after-hours jerkoff club. Samantha Jones might not mind, but something tells me these bridge & tunnel Bradshaws would ...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow... you look amazing in the picture. The best I've seen of you... Is that you?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with douchebags?

Anonymous said...

A friend had a b-day party in the hotel....the service was terrible. the staff stood around instead of serving guests and the manager was getting drunk. Not a good start.

krod said...

oo i live right behind he one in hollywod. i wanna met "the man!"

firstimpre55ion said...

Where do we sign up to meet THE Kenneth in the (212)?! Seriously!!! Email me! :D

Random Thinker said...

That's freaky. I had dinner at STK on Little West 12th on Wednesday, and since we were early, walked around for a bit. I was impressed by the elevated building. Now that I know it's a hotel, I'll try to stay there on a future visit.

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