New Dispensary Near New York's Former Skid Row Suggests How Much the Area has Evolved

Gotham, a new cannabis dispensary, opened in the East Village near the Bowery.

This story was republished with permission from Crain’s New York and written by C.J. Hughes

An investor with a knack for picking trends is hoping that a place once avoided for its intoxicated residents will become a destination to stock up on marijuana.

Joanne Wilson, an early backer of blogs, eco-sensitive wood-framed buildings and vaporizer pens, has opened a new cannabis dispensary in the East Village near the Bowery, the street that in the mid-20th century was the city’s cheap hotel-lined version of Skid Row.

Called Gotham, the stylish 2,800-square-foot space at 3 E. Third St. may put an exclamation point on the neighborhood’s transition to gloss from grit. In addition to the typical gummies and pre-rolled joints, shoppers can browse tinctures, teas and high-end throw pillows in an art-lined berth at the base of a luxury condo.

“We wanted to be in an area that gets a lot of foot traffic,” Wilson said of her dispensary, which opened May 11 and is Manhattan’s fifth since the state created its system for licensing legal adult-use pot shops in 2021.

But even though Manhattan’s other four dispensaries are all within a few blocks, Wilson believes her high-end boutique stands out. “We’ve taken it to a whole ’nother level,” she added.

For the venture, Wilson has partnered with Strive, a Harlem-based nonprofit that helps ex-convicts adjust to post-prison life. State laws mandate that dispensary licenses generally be awarded only to those with past marijuana convictions who also have some business experience or to nonprofits who work with clients who have been incarcerated. Strive gets 51% of any profits, which are reinvested in its mission, and Wilson takes home the rest.

In May 2022, Wilson purchased Gotham’s two-level space for $2.6 million, records show. Its seller was the condo’s sponsor, Calmwater Capital. Upstairs in the six-story Modernesque building, which is called 3E3, are five apartments.

The Bowery’s hotels—single-room-occupancy structures that had cubicle-like rooms with chicken-wire ceilings and sat down the hall from shared kitchens and baths—have all but vanished in the past few decades. The Whitehouse at 340 Bowery, a holdout until recently, may soon become a luxury store. The Bowery Mission at 227 Bowery appears to be about the only major one left , and its survival may be helped by the fact that its brick two-building home is a landmark.

And despite a surge in demand from arriving migrants, there’s not always an appetite to open new SROs. A year ago, Mayor Eric Adams scuttled plans to turn a former Best Western hotel at Bowery and Grand Street into a residence for the homeless, for instance.

In the meantime, dispensary owners might take some solace in the social equity component of their products. Wilson, for one, is glad that Strive, which she previously supported financially, is undoing damage done to Black and brown communities from an overzealous war on drugs. “I believe in this as a business person,” she said, “and as a human being.”

Bowery Properties

3 E. Third St.

As of last week, the ground-floor retail space in this six-story condo, called 3E3, was home to Gotham, the fifth cannabis dispensary in Manhattan. The previous four are on Broadway, East 13th Street, Bleecker Street, and Union Square West. In 2016, Wen Hui Chang sold the prewar building that once stood on this site to architect Alex Barrett and his development company Calmwater Capital for $11.5 million, records show. Alma Bank provided about $7 million in financing. Since 2021, Barrett has worked as the development director for the Hudson Cos., a major developer. Hudson is no stranger to the neighborhood. In 2008, in a partnership with New York University, it developed Founder’s Hall, a 26-story East 12th Street dorm that integrates the facade of a former church.

335 Bowery

The Bowery Hotel, a 17-story, 135-room offering, surprised many when it opened on the site of a former gas station and garage here in 2004. After all, the Bowery was known for its cheap hotels, known as flophouses, and not places that charged $400 a night. A room with a queen-sized bed in mid-May was about $700. Its main development partners are BD Hotels, made up of Richard Born and Ira Drukier, and Sean McPherson and Eric Goode, a foursome that has created other stylish downtown lodgings like the Maritime Hotel on Ninth Avenue, the Marlton Hotel on West Eighth Street and the Jane at a former lodging for sailors in the far West Village. Like many of their hotel projects, the ownership structures are complicated. They originally built the hotel on land leased from Staten Island-based Woodcutters Realty Corp., which had bought it for $3.3 million in 1998, according to property records. The developers reportedly purchased Woodcutters a few years later. But the team ended up in court for years tangling with a fifth partner about control over the land. Gemma, a popular Italian restaurant, anchors the ground floor. Patrons sit steps from where an elevated Bowery subway train rumbled until its tracks were razed in the 1950s.

347 Bowery

The 13-story mixed-use condo tower that hugs this corner offers an outpost of Sweetgreen, the fast-casual restaurant chain, and above it, five luxury homes, including four duplexes and a triplex. Architect Annabelle Selldorf designed the tower, and the firm Urban Muse developed it. Urban Muse, which also sponsored the condos One Beekman in the Financial District and 200 Eleventh in West Chelsea, appears to no longer exist, though a firm principal, Glauco Lolli-Ghetti, is now a principal at Palatine Capital Partners, an investment firm. No. 9/10, a three-bedroom duplex, is now being marketed for $7.5 million. In some ways, the project, which opened in 2017, typifies what’s happened in this stretch of downtown. The condo replaced the East Village Residence, a shelter that had been run by the Salvation Army since the 1950s. In 2011, Claude Louzon, a French restaurateur, snapped up the shelter for $7.6 million before flipping it to Urban Muse two years later for $19 million, records show. In 2016, Louzon opened Miss Paradis, a Philippe Starck-designed eatery on Prince Street in NoLIta known for its charcoal-infused cocktails. But Miss Paradis appears to have closed in 2018.

348 Bowery

An auto-body shop, one of several that used to line the busy street, occupied this tiny site for years before giving way to Bowery Market in 2016, an open-air food hall with a half-dozen vendors. There’s been turnover in recent months. Sushi on Jones, which serves its raw fish omakase style, or chef’s choice, closed in April after a seven-year run. But Scott Marano, the food hall’s owner, said a vegetarian joint called Sunday will replace it. Marano’s development company, Ozymandius Realty, purchased the 1,600-square-foot site in 2008 for $3.6 million, public records show. In 2015, Ozymandius and some partners sold a stalled residential development site at nearby 75 First Ave. to the Colonnade Group for $12.9 million. That site today is home to an 8-story, 22-unit condo.

344 Bowery

Built as a metal shop, this six-story prewar structure with arched windows became a five-unit residential condo in 2007, around the time when this once-ragged strip began its upscale transformation in earnest and started to resemble affluent NoHo next door. But before men’s shelters for inebriates gave the Bowery a bad reputation, the area was a vibrant community of German immigrants. A newspaper that served them, the Plattdeutsche Post, was published at No. 344 before folding in December 1908. The failure sent its editor, Max Mansfield, into a tailspin, according to an article in The New York Times. Mansfield, a long-haired poet who was friendly with bankers and Supreme Court justices, killed himself in his office by inhaling gas about eight months later, the article said. “A pawn ticket dated July 3 showed that his clothes had been pawned to buy food,” it added. Mansfield paid $2.30 a week in rent for his space. In 2021, a two-bedroom apartment upstairs sold for $2.9 million. Records show that the last unit to trade went for about $3 million in 2018.

340 Bowery

One of the last of the Bowery’s flophouses, the Whitehouse Hotel, hung on for more than 100 years at this site, from 1916 to just before the pandemic. Along the way, the population of the Bowery changed dramatically. Indeed, in 2000, the Whitehouse converted some of its floors into a hostel to appeal to budget-conscious travelers, though that plan appeared abandoned about a decade later. The 12,400-square-foot brick structure, part of NoHo’s historic district, which limits its redevelopment while preserving its facade, is owned by the developer Renatus Group, which paid $8.2 million for the property in 2014, records show. In recent months, Renatus has been renovating the building, possibly to add a new retail space, based on signage. Renatus already owns storefronts installed with upscale shops in the Hamptons, San Francisco and Long Island, its website shows.

5 E. Third St.

The Upper West Side’s Dakota apartment building reportedly got its name because it was located so far from the city’s heart at the time of its late 1800s construction. The nine-story former industrial building at this address is called the Wyoming, according to an inscription over its door, though it can be hard to believe that this historic area with roots to the earliest European settlers—17th-century Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant’s farm was around the corner—was ever as remote. During the loft-conversion craze of the 1970s and 1980s, artists moved into No. 5 and paid rent to the city, which had designated the building for an urban-renewal project but never tore it down. In 2008, the residents banded together and bought the building for $630,000 in cash, though they owe the city $470,000 per unit when they sell, according to news reports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest cannabis news delivered right to your inbox

The Morning Rise

Unpack the industry with the daily cannabis newsletter for business leaders.

 Sign up

About Us

The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


Recent Tweets

Back to Top

Get the latest cannabis news delivered right to your inbox

The Morning Rise

Unpack the industry with the daily cannabis newsletter for business leaders.