James Barron | August 25, 2011
t was the bar whose name everybody knew, even though it had no sign: Chumley’s, in Greenwich Village. A speakeasy during Prohibition and a destination for tourists seeking a snapshot or New Yorkers seeking a nightcap, Chumley’s has been closed since a wall collapsed in April 2007.
Chumley’s owners had said they hoped to reopen in a few weeks, then a few months. By 2008, they had removed the booths and tables — and the photographs that had lined the walls — and stored them for safekeeping. The building’s landlord, Margaret Streicker Porres, said in August 2008 that she hoped the work would be completed in midfall of that year.
Three years later, the construction barricades are still up.
So when, really, will Chumley’s reopen?
”That’s the one question I need to work on,” said Jim Miller, a firefighter who started as a part-time bartender and ended up in charge. ”There’s nobody more unhappy than I am about how long this has been going on. You have no idea how complicated this was.”
He said that earlier in the year, he had hoped to finish the construction work at the bar, at 86 Bedford Street, by now and bring back the furnishings and the photographs for an October reopening. ”That timeline did not work out,” he said.
He took another look at the calendar and recalculated. ”I was hoping to get in for the holidays,” he said. ”That’s what I was pushing hard for.”
But that now seems unlikely, he said, and he has set his sights on 2012.
He said one of the biggest delays had involved the adjacent building at 56 Barrow Street. ”It butted against the rear of our building,” he said. ”Nothing could go forward until that was rectified, and it took a year and a half to work out.”
Ms. Streicker Porres agreed that the rebuilding had been unusually complicated — and that the end finally seemed to be in sight. ”We are working through the last of what we expect to be the construction issues,” she said.
She said her team had been waiting for mechanical engineers who work for Mr. Miller ”to give us some guidance” about where to install hookups for city services, ”since you want to rebuild this building only once every 100 years.”
The building at 56 Barrow Street, near Bedford Street in the West Village, dates to 1827 and was given landmark status by the city last year. Ms. Streicker Porres said the building was being ”rebuilt as a town house with an apartment underneath.”
A second adjacent building, at 84 Bedford Street has been renovated as condominiums. Ms. Streicker Porres said the apartments were being marketed through Brown Harris Stevens. One, a two-bedroom duplex, is listed at $2.124 million. Another, a one bedroom unit, is priced at $1.015 million.