LoHo? BelDel? Sometimes L.E.S. Really Is More
New York Times By Alex Midlin Published February 12, 2006
The idea that the Lower East Side should be called LoHo, as in Lower Houston, sprang from the head of Jacob Goldman, a sardonic, smiling, neatly bearded real estate broker who sits behind a knickknack-covered desk at the back of his company's Grand Street office.
Mr. Goldman's company, not coincidentally, is called LoHo Realty. He also has a Web log, called LoHo Blog; an online neighborhood guide, called LoHo Guide; and a collection of framed newspaper articles that refer to the neighborhood by just the name you would expect.
"It's soft marketing," Mr. Goldman said the other day. "It's branding for my name. But I'm not looking to rename the Lower East Side; I want it to be an 'also known as.' "
His efforts, which date to the late 1990's, sometimes bring him into low-intensity conflict with the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, which tolerates but does not use the LoHo name.
It is, however, an amicable rivalry.
Mr. Goldman said of the BID's publicist, Dara Lehon: "She always goes to me, 'Where's LoHo?' And I tell her, 'Soon the BID's going to be called the LoHo BID.' "
In addition, a string of banners recently installed by the BID that feature the slogan "L.E.S. Is More" were sponsored by LoHo Realty and bear the company's name.
As is true with many newly trendy New York neighborhoods, an array of names have been proposed for the Lower East Side. LoHo, which Mr. Goldman thought up with a friend one Saturday afternoon, has been used in newspaper headlines and grant proposals. Another recent entrant is BelDel, which describes a 12-block area below Delancey Street and above Canal Street.
Since BelDel appeared in a Time Out New York article two weeks ago, that name has sparked griping. "Who said we were BELDEL?" complained one poster on Co-Op Village Online, a neighborhood message board. "BELDEL GoHEL!"
The real-estate blog Curbed, which itself has used the name on occasion, dismissed BelDel as an "annoyingly press-prodded microhood."
Mr. Goldman himself gave a visible and slightly practiced start when he heard the name. "They were a great band in the 80's!" he said. "They had that song, 'Poison.'
"Oh," he corrected himself. "That's Bell Biv Devoe."