Limelight brings light to dark club space

"Real Housewives" say they are happy to shop at new incarnation of the Limelight club
By Lauren Elkies | May 07, 2010 12:25AM

(Updated: 12:58 p.m.) The new brightly lit Limelight Marketplace is a great departure from the notorious nightclub with a very dark past.

While the exterior of the building and detailed stained glass windows remain, the 163-year-old Episcopal church-turned Limelight nightclub has been transformed into a trendy shopping emporium and given a new name: Limelight Marketplace.

The 25,000-square-foot building at 656 Sixth Avenue and 20th Street has two full stories and a multi-level maze of 60 little shops on the perimeter of a hollowed out space. The retailers offer a small portion of their inventory in spaces ranging from 100 to 700 square feet, according to a spokesperson for the marketplace, giving them a pop-up shop feel. And in a way they are, with leases ranging from six months to a year. The spokesperson would not disclose the rent.

Stars from “The Real Housewives of New York City” were on hand at the grand opening cocktail party last night.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said “Housewife” Jill Zarin, co-owner of Zarin Fabrics. “It’s a great place to come gift shopping.”

Her husband, Bobby, who is in the commercial real estate business and is co-owner of Zarin Fabrics, said of the boutique mall: “As soon as I walked in the door, I had that ‘wow factor.'”

When asked what he thought about the fact that there is no elevator in the building, Bobby said, “this is a young crowd. I don’t think they’re going to mind there’s no elevator.”

According to the marketplace spokesperson, there is no elevator because the “building is a landmarked space.”

“Housewife” Kelly Bensimon, a model who appeared on the March cover of Playboy, said: “I would definitely shop here,” but noted that she generally shops in the Hamptons.

Developer Jack Menashe modeled the $20 million renovation project on European modes of shopping, like Convent Gardens and Burlington Arcade in London.

Other retailers on the roster at the marketplace include Hunter Boots, LeSportsac, Brocade Home, Selima Optiques and Grimaldi’s pizzeria.

Limelight Marketplace officially opens today.