One ninety Bowery, a grimy old New York City building that sits literally at the intersection of Bowery and Spring Street, has found a chief tenant: a consortium of “luxury and fashion image-making” companies that, according to its CEO, sits “literally at the intersection of chic and gritty.” Literally a perfect match.

The ca.-1898 former bank building, which serves as a kind of monument to the Bowery of old, was for the past several decades owned and inhabited by the photographer Jay Maisel. An artsy type, Maisel allowed his hulking home’s lower facade to be used as a canvas for a rotating cast of graffiti writers. Regardless of your taste or lack thereof for inscrutable spray-painted letters and wheat-pasted posters, it is a potent symbol: defiant and ugly, devoid of any advertising or aspirations toward the slick and moneyed cool of the neighborhood around it. (Gawker’s decidedly slick and moneyed office is around the corner.)

When news broke that Maisel was selling 190 Bowery, those of us with a rose-tinted vision of New York City’s past worried that it would be remade as a glassy and anonymous luxury apartment building, signaling the end of an era for a thoroughfare that was once famous for the gruff hospitality it extended to the city’s destitute. A quieter but more truly ominous death knell had sounded a year before, when it was announced that the Bowery Salvation Army, a century-old haven for the homeless and mentally ill, would be moving out to make room for an Ace Hotel.

But fear not: 190’s fashionable new tenants plan on keeping the graffiti. From the Wall Street Journal:

RFR LLC, which bought the 1898 building this year from photographer Jay Maisel for $55 million, intended to keep much of the graffiti and was pleased to find a tenant that shared its appreciation of the building’s look and place in the neighborhood, said A.J. Camhi, RFR senior vice president. RFR’s principal and co-founder Aby Rosen, who is also an art collector, bought the building with the view that “this was an iconic building that can’t be replicated with the image it has,” he said...

Mr. Moneypenny said the company intends to bring the space up to code but leave the rest—including the manually operated, copper-gilded cage elevator—largely the same. The layout and the location work well for the company, he said.

“That section of the Bowery still has some of the New York downtown grit that has been disappearing,” Mr. Moneypenny said. “We are literally at the intersection of chic and gritty.”

The unnamed association of companies, which includes image licensing firm Trunk Archive and talent management agency Streeters, signed an 11-year-lease on the buildings second through sixth floors. The Bowery as New York City once knew it has been gone for a long time.

Update: “To be clear, we have expressed our very adamant preference that the graffiti remain – and the management company seems well aligned with our view – but the ground floor retail or restaurant tenant will apparently have the final say,” the association’s executive Matthew Moneypenny told ANIMAL. If the ground floor tenant doesn’t want it, there’s a chance the graffiti won’t live after all.

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