I kinda, sorta, secretly gave up on the idea of Chumley's rebirth sometime in early 2010. The collapse of the historic, wonderful old speakeasy in 2007 tore my heart in two, and the subsequent indifference of the City and the utter perfidy of the scurrilous landlord killed me. Then the 19th-century brick building was torn down and a horrid pile of cinder blocks started rising from the ground in fits and starts. We were supposed to pretend this pretender was Chumley's back from the grave? I didn't even believe the ugly facsimile would ever see the dawn of day. Chumley's was gone. That was that.
Still, I have to admit I was surprised and hopeful when I turned the corner at Bedford Street and found this. It looks rather like a building, doesn't it? The cornice is plastic and crappy, the windows no great shakes, and it's half way to disguising itself as a brownstone. But it's something; enough to make me partly believe that a functioning building will actually one day soon stand on the site where Chumley's was. It still won't be Chumley's, even if they stuff the joint full with the original booths and pictures and bric-a-brac that used to make up the interior of the original bar. It will be a fake. But it will no longer be a complete failure, a despair-inducing hole in the ground.
I noticed something else cheering while I was checking out Chumley's. The building to the right of it—which was also in bad shape after the collapse, and under construction for a long time—now seems to be up and running. There's a light in the window, a newly refurbished doorway (albeit padlocked and covered in plastic), a fresh look to the old bricks. It's been brought back from the dead.