Alvin Reed says he will re-open the Lenox Lounge late this summer at its new home, two blocks north of its old home.
“We’re going to be the same as we was: an original Harlem bar,” said Reed, who gave an exclusive look at a sketch of the new club’s exterior.
Renderings of the new interior are not finished, but Reed and his architect said they were aiming to keep it as close to the original as they could.
“(Patrons) can expect everything Lenox Lounge offered before: the name, the signage, the bar, the stools, the floors … It’s going to be Lenox Lounge.”
The legendary jazz club, which played host to the likes of Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, called 288 Lenox Ave. home for more than 70 years until it shuttered on Dec. 31, 2012.
Reed and his new business partner, Dean Schomburg (pictured in the top photograph), are gearing up for the club’s return at 333 Lenox Ave., near the corner of W. 127th St.
Construction is slated to begin in April and will be complete four to six months later, says architect Victor Body-Lawson, of Body Lawson Associates.
The “new” Lenox Lounge, a 1,200-square-foot space, will mimick the Art Deco interior of the original — but with a contemporary flair — and the famed Zebra Room will be recreated, but with a skylight, said Body-Lawson.
Preliminary construction costs hover around $420,000. Reed is drawing support from a friend, Marilyn Blackstone, who launched a “Friends of Lenox Lounge” website to help him raise money.
“We’re attempting to really support these businesses that have been a part of the original Harlem because a lot of them have been displaced,” Blackstone said.
Restaurateur Richard Notar, who leased the former Lenox Lounge space shortly after Reed moved out, is still preparing to open his planned Notar Jazz Club and “working diligently” to restore the 2,500-square-foot space, a spokeswoman said.
The race is on to see which lounge will open first, but Reed says he’s not sweating it.
“There’s only one Lenox Lounge,” Reed said. “There’s no competition. We got the bar, the sign, so there will be no mistake about who’s the Lenox Lounge and who’s not.”
Notar was not available to speak, but he took the high road when asked whether the two clubs could co-exist.
“I’m happy for any and all new businesses that open in the Harlem neighborhood,” Notar said in a statement. “As it increases foot traffic and jobs.”
Notar could not call the space Lenox Lounge because Reed owns the rights to the name.
“They thought they could walk in and all of the stuff would be there, the name would be there … like I’m just some elderly black man who would walk away,” Reed said.
Reed is currently fending off a $50 million lawsuit filed last February by Ricky Edmonds, Reed’s former landlord, who wants the club owner to return fixtures, doors, mirrors, signs and furniture he says Reed took when he moved.
Reed, a retired postal worker and police officer, owned the original Lenox Lounge for 26 years. He said he paid $200,000 to restore the original lounge and was forced out when his Edmonds tried to double his rent to $20,000 a month.
His new rent will be $8,000 a month, he said (source),