SOHO — Italian fashion giant Dolce & Gabbana is opening its flagship store in a 161-year-old building on Mercer Street — after the developer bypassed rules that don't allow stores that big to open in the district.
D&G is set to lease 155 Mercer St. from Thor Equities for the store and gets around the 10,000 square foot limit by using the basement, the development company announced Tuesday.
"As a leading luxury design house and fashion forward brand, Dolce & Gabbana is an ideal fit for the increasingly trendy Mercer Street corridor and surrounding SoHo neighborhood,” Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, said in a statement.
The company declined to disclose the financial terms of the lease.
Dolce & Gabbana's plans for the 1854 building include "recreating 155 Mercer's original brownstone facade," according to a press release. The structure once was home to a firehouse (with a pet monkey) until the 1970s, and most recently was home to a dance studio.
Thor Equities released a rendering showing significant changes to the historic building's windows, roof and storefront, but a spokesman said the company was still working on a final design.
The developer received a special permit from the city to use the ground floor and cellar of the building for retail, which is not usually allowed under the zoning in the Soho-Cast Iron Historic District.
Typically, retailers would also need a special permit to have a store bigger than 10,000 square feet in the area, but Dolce & Gabbana is allowed to have a 15,000-square-foot store because the cellar doesn't count toward the square footage.
SoHo residents have previously balked at big-box retail in multi-story spaces. Most recently, residents, Community Board 2, and elected officials including Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilwoman Margaret Chin got a developer to cut back the large retail space planned at 19 E. Houston St.
CB2 expressed concerns that the large retail space at 155 Mercer St. “adds to the changing character of the retail section of the neighborhood, replacing smaller business with larger scale flagship stores," but the board ultimately approved the project.