The west side of Manhattan is being reshaped by Hudson Square, a massive new development complex that’s already brought trendy restaurants and new hotels — just a fraction of what’s to come — to a rare underused part of New York City. The newest arrival is Disney, which bought an entire block of Spring Street in SoHo to turn into a new tower for its headquarters, which will force the beloved restaurant and concert venue City Winery to close.
“It is inevitable in a city like New York that two-story buildings will eventually yield to taller ones,” City Winery founder and CEO Michael Dorf said in a statement. “It is unfortunate to see historically significant 120-year-old brick and beam gems get swapped for 50-story generic glass towers.”
How much does an entire city block in Manhattan cost? Disney dropped $650 million on four buildings to make way for its new tower, which be called 4 Hudson Square and won't be completed until at least 2025. City Winery has to close by Jan. 1, 2020 at 155 Varick St., but plans are already underway to find a new location and begin construction before the end of 2018.
The search for a new home won’t be simple. City Winery’s current space is 30,000 square feet, housing much more than a wine bar and restaurant. As its name implies there’s an actual winery tucked inside, where grapes arrive for pressing, aging and bottling, as well as a 300-seat dine-in concert venue for intimate shows — upcoming performances include Paula Cole (July 13) and actress Katey Sagal’s band The Reluctant Apostles (July 26).
It’s not all bad news. City Winery is using its relocation as a chance to find “a bigger, better, and improved space.” Dorf’s original passion is live music, having founded New York’s iconic music venue The Knitting Factory in 1987, so City Winery 2.0 will not only keep its large concert hall but add a smaller 150-capacity venue. Its kitchens and private event spaces will be getting an upgrade; winemaking will also continue on the premises.
City Winery opened in Manhattan in 2008 as a way to combine Dorf’s passion for live music with wine. Since then, City Winery has expanded to five other cities, as well as adding the rooftop wine bar City Vineyard on the Hudson River, also in SoHo.
Dorf thanked his former landlord, Trinity Church Real Estate, saying they had a “very strong relationship.” The character of City Winery’s neighborhood changed in 2010 with the opening of the Trump SoHo hotel, now under new ownership as The Dominick, Dorf says, and acknowledges “the demolition of our building was ultimately unavoidable. We hope to work with [Trinity Church] to find a suitable location given their substantial property holdings.
“Trinity, and now Disney, has continued to express that City Winery is a significant cultural asset to the neighborhood and would like us to stay in the area.”