Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Ben Ari Arts is a shell of its former self on Avenue A
Been some time since we checked in on the former religious articles store at 11 Avenue A between East First Street and East Second Street… Ben Art Arts, which had been at this location since 1960 (opened on Allen Street in 1945) closed at the end of 2013.
Workers have gutted the space ahead of a residential conversion (with retail on the ground floor) …
We haven't spotted much activity here of late. There are DOB permits pending for a six-unit residential building with an additional floor. (The DOB last disapproved the plans in January.)
As BuzzBuzzHome first reported back in January 2014, the developer is Abraham Soudry's Better Living Properties and Robert Strong Architect is designing the conversion. (Soudry reportedly pleaded guilty in 2010 to bribing an undercover investigator who was posing as a building inspector.)
Ben Ari Arts owner Yakov Melmed, who started helping his father sell an array of menorahs, ceremonial wine cups and prayer shawls at the store in 1973, made the decision leave the neighborhood. He sold the building for $3.4 million.
And as far as we know, this was the last of the Judaica shops in the Lower East Side.