Every couple of weeks, the five-story, mostly vacant and dilapidated building on Seventh Avenue at the corner of Second Street gets a new mural added to its façade. But last week, a new kind of mural speckled the seven-year-old scaffolding, stating that the on the ground floor is up for rent.
The ground floor space used to be home to Landmark Pub, an eccentric bar owned by the Nash family, Dorothy and her two daughters. But, for a couple years now, the daughters, Rachel and Esther Nash, have turned the space into an art gallery for new and emerging artists.
They hold , which features a handful of artists and their work in the run-down second floor. The public is welcome to meander through the hallways, chat with the artists and even buy some pieces.
But now, according to Esther Nash, they need someone to rent the space for the Townhouse Art Gallery to continue.
“In order to sustain the Townhouse Art Gallery's ability to offer artists a commission-free opportunity to sell their art, we are looking to rent the gallery and pub space for photo shoots, films and private receptions,” Esther Nash wrote Patch in an E-mail.
“We ideally would like to create an art and cultural center representing talented emerging artists of the world, having a film festival for emerging film-makers, emerging screen-writers, emerging authors, emerging journalists, new poets and acoustic musicians,” Nash explained.
During the first Participatory Budgeting meeting held by Councilman Brad Lander, D-Park Slope, Rachel and Esther proposed that the space receive funding to become a community arts and culture center.
With five floors that used to be apartments, before the building was vacated and left unmaintained for years, there is a great development opportunity on a prime piece of real estate in Park Slope.
The Nash sisters have an idea for the space above the old Landmark Pub, too.
“We would also welcome turning the upper portion into an incubator for not-for-profit and for-profit start-up businesses who are looking to rent space short-term while they try out their…business ideas,” Nash wrote. “Or create a museum.”
Nash also said that they would love to open the Landmark Pub again and “offer free nightly entertainment” consisting of “acoustic music, poetry and stand-up comedy.”
“Our goal is to create a space that the community will enjoy and support,” Nash explained.
The community has been waiting for something to be done with the property. Neighbors of the building have become concerned for their safety. Back in February, . The FDNY was called and they removed a couple of rotted sections to make they wouldn’t fall on a car or passersby.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development erected the scaffolding in 2007 after a window fell from the building and landed on top of a car parked.
A neighbor, who watched the FDNY remove the scaffolding back in February, said he has seen the building deteriorate for nearly 30 years and is genuinely afraid.
“It’s a travesty and a legitimate hazard to our community, kids and every pedestrian who walks by the building,” the neighbor said, who did not want to give his name. “Nash is doing a good thing with the art gallery, but the condition of the building is a blatant disregard to the community.”
On Monday, a man who was sitting at the bar in , which is across Second Street from the old Landmark Pub space, said he used to play in a blues band at the bar nearly 30 years ago.
“It was a cool place in the 1980s,” said Mat Maneri, who plays the violin and viola for various jazz bands.
But Maneri said the current state of the building is unfortunate.
“It’s obviously sad, the roof is coming down, it could be a beautiful building, but it’s been let go,” the musician said.
Although the Nash’s building is not in good shape, Maneri does appreciate the art gallery.
“I dig the daughters’ art gallery. I love that they are bringing new artists’ work to the neighborhood,” Maneri said, who has been living in Park Slope off and on since the 1960s. “But maybe the building should be gutted, make it safe, make it official.”
He said it could be a beautiful apartment building and that he would like for the bar to open back up.
“It would be wonderful if they made it a great space for the community again, but now it’s too run down,” Maneri said.
Robert Borday, the co-owner of Farran and Associates, a realty agency on Seventh Avenue between Second and Third streets, said he grew up four doors down from Dorothy Nash and used to play in the building when it used to be apartments.
“I look up at the building and see a tremendous eyesore and I do not understand how the city has let this property go to waste,” Borday said, who is 53 and used to play kiss-and-tell in the building’s hallways when he was a kid.
He said that he does not understand why the Nashes haven’t done anything with the building, but if they wanted to work with him, he could get them a deal in 24 hours time.
“As a real estate agent, I could bring them 10 or 12 investors who would give her the money she wanted tomorrow,” Borday said. “But a rental? What does she have that’s rentable?”
He said if he were the building’s agent, he would not rent the space, but only sell it to a developer.
“Who would rent a space in a vacant building that’s falling apart?” he said.
Borday explained that rent on Seventh Avenue is between $4,000 and $10,000 for a space in good condition. But from what he can see, the space needs an incredible amount of work and money.
“I would love for her to put it up for sale,” Borday said. “It would be a labor of love, but it could be a fabulous structure once again.”
“I urge Ms. Nash to call Farran and Associates to co-develop the building,” Borday said. “The entire neighborhood is waiting for it to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”
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