By  on June 28, 2011

NEW YORK — It’s back to the drawing board for Limelight Marketplace.

Launched in May 2010 as a collection of shops, cafes, eateries and restaurants under one roof, the site will be relaunched in September as a three-level department store simply called Limelight.

An audacious $20 million experiment, Limelight Marketplace bowed with 60 vendors filling every corner of the former Gothic Revival-style church at Sixth Avenue and 20th Street. Prior to Marketplace, the church was the site of the notorious Limelight nightclub in the Eighties.

“Originally, we wanted Limelight Marketplace to be a family-style entertainment place,” said owner Jack Menashe, who realized that “the way the shops were cut up made it a little difficult to shop. The whole main floor is cleared out and it’s very sexy and dramatic and moody. It’s going to have a much more sophisticated one-vision feel.”

Limelight will be open during the $4 million renovation, he said.

“We were doing very good,” Menashe said, referring to sales, but declined to be more specific. “We think the [new] direction will be even more fruitful.”

Hunter Boots, LeSportsac, Cockpit USA, Alexander West and Om Aroma & Co. are among the brands that exited Limelight Marketplace.

“It needs more fashion, that whole feeling of unknown brands I love to discover,” said Menashe, who wants to recast Limelight as a hipper place to shop and eat. “The jeans room will have 30 different brands.” Menashe owned Lounge in SoHo before embarking on the 25,000-square-foot Limelight Marketplace project.

Ad agency Conversation was hired to drive marketing efforts, while Melanie Drake, former buyer at Boogies in Aspen, came on board to revamp the merchandise mix. Limelight’s location is a plus, she said. “We don’t have the obstacles other stores have like fighting for lines. Any [brand] I wanted, I got. That includes M Missoni, Charlotte Ronson, James Perse, Young Fabulous & Broke, Rich and Skinny, Winter Kate and Elizabeth and James for women and Levi’s Made & Crafted, Sundek by Neil Barrett and Original Penguin, Trovata and Rogan for men.”

Todd English’s new Cross Bar restaurant at Limelight has joined Grimaldi’s pizza restaurant and Cana Wine Bar. A DJ will spin tunes. “We’re trying to bring a fun, Fred Segal-type of vibe with lots of denim,” Drake said. “The space is huge. It’s such a big undertaking. But all these different elements make it special.”

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