New York gritty on display

With '70s and '80s artworks and rock star photos, a new high-end rental celebrates Downtown's bygone era of decadence

A photo of the Rolling Stones at Danceteria in 1980 watches over the lobby

Nostalgia, if not irony, is a big part of the aesthetic premise at Exhibit, a new high-end rental at 60 Fulton Street. The 23-story tower, by pro golfer-turned-developer Scott Aaron, has begun leasing, with the first residents expected to move in this month.

The newly constructed building on the edge of the South Street Seaport joins other luxury residential buildings in the area, like the new Beekman Residences and the converted Woolworth Building. While the latter two draw on their connections to historic New York City — owners at the Beekman pass through a restored, nine-story Victorian atrium, and many features from the Woolworth Building’s original Cass Gilbert design are being restored or replicated — the design behind Exhibit draws on a more recent past with a permanent photography exhibit (get it?) that pays homage to Downtown Manhattan’s art and music scene from the ’70s and ’80s.

Over 100 vintage photographs taken by celebrity shutterbugs like Marc Weiss, Allen Tannenbaum and David Godlis will rotate among the floors. These include black-and-white and color images of past Downtown denizens like the Ramones, Basquiat and Madonna.

“It’s all about eclectic luxury celebrating an unfiltered time and place in New York that no longer exists. These photographs capture fleeting moments of iconic artists and musicians that were taken in venues that really meant something,” said Aaron, principal of Socius Development Group.

“It’s all about eclectic luxury celebrating
an unfiltered time and place in New York
that no longer exists.”
Scott Aaron, Socius Development Group

For instance, there are the Rolling Stones at Danceteria in 1980 and a studio portrait of Debbie Harry circa 1978 hanging in the lobby. Underneath are two custom-designed chairs, one with “Studio 54 Lives” across the front, the other with David Bowie lyrics etched into the sides. Dotting the halls and communal areas upstairs are images of Warhol at The Factory and Jimi Hendrix tuning his guitar backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1970.

Of course, there’s a certain paradox in making these gritty images the central theme of a brand-new, high-end building in a neighborhood that’s experiencing a luxury makeover. It’s a reminder of the characters who made the city thrilling, sexy and even a little dangerous — qualities that even loads of money can’t always buy.

Still, in coming up with the concept—including its 1970s-style warehouse exterior topped by a contemporary glass and manganese ironspot brick façade—Aaron and co-developer Steven Brauser of the Parkland Group aimed to create a modern building that would not seem out of place in the neighborhood.

Exhibit has been in the works since 2014, when Aaron and Brauser first filed plans for their new FiDi project, which will include retail space on the ground floor. Interestingly, Exhibit is rising on the site of a former parking lot, which was featured in the 2003 film “Anger Management” with Jack Nicholson.

The 120 apartments are a mix of studios and one- and two-bedrooms with a wide selection of layouts, including many that have designated space for home offices and 70 percent with outdoor space. Rents for the two-bedrooms start at $5,200. The interiors are by Andres Escobar, whose other signature projects include the Vantage in Murray Hill and the Nevins in Boerum Hill.

Each apartment features floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of the skyline and harbor. Additional amenities include Italian stone countertops by Stevali and Bosch washers and dryers in most of the apartments.

Among the common spaces (decorated with images of Ozzy Osbourne, Cindy Lauper and Run-DMC) are a fitness and yoga studio and a rooftop residents’ club featuring indoor/outdoor fireplaces and custom furniture designed by Jimmie Martin of London. There’s also a billiard and poker room as well as a demonstration kitchen/dining room and private wine and spirits storage space.

So what would rockers from the ’70s and ’80s think about their likenesses being used to add a cool factor to a new high-end residential building? At least for Patti Smith fans, certainly the title of one of her most famous songs comes to mind: “Ain’t It Strange!”