SOHO — Erotica is replacing engines at this former mechanics shop.
A once-grimy garage behind the BP gas station on East Houston Street is about to make its high-end retail debut with a pop-up store from clothing brand United Colors of Benetton — featuring life-size knit dolls in kama sutra-inspired positions.
The garage doors at 135 Crosby St. will be rolled open for Fashion's Night Out festivities on Sept. 6, revealing the shop and gallery "Benetton: The Art of Knit," a spokesman for the company said Tuesday.
The 2,200-square-foot space was in use as a mechanics garage until February and was still full of debris in April, when DNAinfo reported the garage was on the market as a retail space that could command as much as $27,000 per month.
The risqué sculptures that will soon take the place of spare tires and motor oil are part of Cuban artist Erik Ravelo's "Lana Sutra" collection, according to Benetton's website.
"The emotions each colour gives, the cosiness of wool, a warm embrace: these are all feelings that unite humankind and are expressed in a new art form in line with its time," the site explained. "The Lana Sutra is … conceived as a homage to love and dedicated to the desire for an equal and sharing society."
The sculptures, which Benetton has previously used in foreign campaigns, will be accompanied by Benetton merchandise.
The pop-up shop, with entrances on both Crosby and Lafayette streets, will be open through December, the company's spokesman said.
The garage and adjacent BP station are owned by LargaVista Companies, which is seeking Landmarks Preservation Commission approval to redevelop the lot, which could include tearing down the gas station and replacing it with high-end retail, according to the group's website.
The MTA is looking to develop its property on East Houston Street just west of the gas station site, which could also include retail tenants, according to the request for proposals.