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June 2, 2010
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Once the novelty of shopping in a former church-turned-nightclub wears off, will the new Limelight Marketplace last? While I am a proponent of adaptive re-use, this latest iteration by Mansour Design does not do the historic structure justice.

I went with a friend, who wanted to leave as soon as he stepped inside. The cacophony of the black and white tiles, the stained glass windows, and the boutiques shoved into every nook and cranny were too much for him. As I elbowed my way through the crowds, merchandise, and in some cases the stores themselves, the experience did not grow on me either. The narrow stairways, reminiscent of the jam-packed club it once was (and the church it was before that), were difficult to maneuver even without shopping bags. Peering over the balconies, the bright colors and busy aesthetics were disorienting, making it difficult to focus on anything.

Even the selection of stores confused me, from stands selling flip-flops to decorative chocolates, it felt like a generic mall crammed into a small space. The Limelight is a place that is uniquely of New York; it is a shame that this is not embraced or reflected in its new identity (although I read that there is a local farmer’s market in an interior courtyard, a space that I could not find when I was there).

My friend commented that typical suburban malls, while they may not be enjoyable to some, provide space and relief from everyday life. The Limelight Marketplace does exactly the opposite. Overall, my experience did not make me want to purchase anything, and it did not make me want to return. I do not see how this adaptive re-use project will last. Until the next renovation, I will be avoiding the Limelight.

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