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Former Performance Space Founded by Ex-Rolling Stones Manager To be Razed

By Maya Rajamani | January 25, 2017 10:40am
 The West 24th Street venue hosted performers like Nico, Jeff Buckley and Bad Brains over the years.
The Red Door
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CHELSEA — A building once used as performance space founded by a onetime manager of The Rolling Stones is facing the wrecking ball.

The Red Door, which opened in 1978 at 140 W. 24th St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues, played host to such acts as Nico, Bad Brains, Jeff Buckley, Richard Hell and John Zorn.

But the current owner of the property, Extell Development Company, has filed a permit to demolish the three-story townhouse after it fell into disrepair a few years back, city Department of Buildings records show.

The Red Door launched in the then-home of former Rolling Stones and Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who decided to create a performance and rehearsal space in the townhouse, its former events producer Raul Gonzalez said.

“It was a very special place and everybody that went there will tell you that,” said Gonzalez, who first met Gomelsky in 2005 when his Latin punk band Barra Libre booked a gig at the venue.

“The atmosphere, the audience, was so vibrant — the place was really alive.”

The former entrance to the Red Door at 140 W. 26th St. (Credit: Raul Gonzalez)

After performing there, Gonzalez “fell in love with the place” and started helping Gomelsky manage it, he said. 

“[Gomelsky] didn’t really care about making money,” the producer recalled.

“He was there, really, for the content and the music, the art."

It was Gonzalez who helped spearhead a Kickstarter campaign for the venue in 2013 after part of the building next door collapsed and damaged its roof “tremendously,” he said.

The campaign raised more than $25,000, but the building's many structural and legal issues proved too much to keep the venue open.

Gonzalez and his team packed up and left the building in 2015 when the city issued a full vacate order after it found a crack on an exterior wall, the producer and a DOB spokesman said.

Gomelsky passed away less than a year later after a battle with colon cancer.

Extell, which recently bought the Red Door building and the one next door at 142 W. 24th St., has no current development plans for either of the sites, said its executive vice president of construction, David Rothstein.

The developer is currently in the process of razing the building at 142 W. 24th St., he added.

“It was obviously really sad… [but] it was a long time coming, so it didn’t really hit me when I learned it was going to be demolished,” Gonzalez acknowledged.

In its later years, the venue had also begun to draw complaints from neighbors.

“It’s sort of the same story the rest of New York has experienced with venues like the Wetlands [Preserve], Tonic, CBGB,” Gonzalez said.

“I think the neighborhood outgrew the capability to house a place like this.”