By  on February 4, 2010

NEW YORK — The club kids and celebrities who flocked to the Limelight nightclub during its heyday in the Eighties and early Nineties would hardly recognize the deconsecrated church. It is being reinvented as The Limelight Marketplace, an indoor shopping center modeled after a quaint European shopping district.

The project is on target to meet its March 25 opening date despite the structural and construction challenges of converting the landmark Gothic revival church on Sixth Avenue and 20th Street into a three-level, 25,000-square-foot mall. The tab for renovations has swelled to $15 million from $10 million.

“The hard part was getting the right tenants,” said Jack Menashe, president of Limelight Marketplace, who estimated $50 million in sales volume the first year despite the fallout from the recession. “It’s not going to be a flea market.”

Menashe said a few spaces remain to be leased.

The church’s dark interior has been painted white, the beer-soaked carpets replaced by a checkerboard black-and-white floor. On the first level, a series of small shops line either side of the main hall, each with its own distinctive facade, from Neoclassical columns to wrought iron. The out-of-the-way rooms in the back are being transformed into a specialty food hall with vendors such as Miss Tea and Carter & Cavero olive oil. There will be a Sweet Room where parents and children can sample treats.

Shops in the main hall will include Hunter Boot’s first store selling outerwear, leather boots and wellies. Therapie New York, an apothecary run by Boyd’s of Madison Avenue, will open Therapie New York General Store for Limelight. Selima Optique has leased a space, as has Le Sportsac.

Silly Souls baby clothing and shoes, Book Smart, Brocade Home, created by Lisa Versacio, founder of West Elm, and Cult Jones Gallery will open stores. Soapology will have a bath tub and an aromatic oil bar for mixing scents.

Luludenim plans one of the largest stores at Limelight, a 1,500-square-foot space selling AG, Diesel and Robin’s jeans and ready-to-wear by Y-3, Jean Paul Gaultier and Moschino. A Lulu sneaker bar will feature Dsquared and Galliano.

The apothecary room, with red patent leather-covered walls and black lacquer and mirrored fixtures, will feature Caswell-Massey, Om Aroma & Co., a Cosme Proud treatment collection containing 24-karat gold flakes and created by former Shiseido executives, and Sue Devitt, whose line is sold at Barneys New York.

Brocade’s second store, a 1,500-square-foot space on the second floor, will have themed lifestyle rooms.

The J. Sisters, Brazilian siblings who operate a salon on East 57th Street, leased the third floor, once known as the Spider Room. J. Sisters, which popularized the Brazilian bikini wax in New York during the mid-Nineties, will offer haircuts and color, manicures, pedicures and facials.

John Wye’s custom-made leather accessories and screen printed T-shirts for men will be housed in a so-called “skybox” on the third floor. S’Mac, Oprah Winfrey’s favorite mac-and-cheese restaurant, will open on the second and third floors. Among the other retailers will be Tina Tang, a jeweler with a store in the West Village, and Tantra, the maker of tunics for Calypso.

Services will include a concierge and central cash wrap. Grimaldi Pizza of Brooklyn will have its own entrance on Sixth Avenue and will operate 24/7.

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