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NY indoor park a ‘rebellion against winter’

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Birds are chirping, the grass is green and tea is being served amid blossoming bushes.

Welcome to New York City in January, with a cure for cold-weather blues: a pop-up indoor park that’s open through Valentine’s Day.

Despite temperate temperatures so far this year, “it’s our rebellion against winter,” says Jonathan Daou, founder and CEO of Openhouse Gallery, which holds a 20-year lease on the space.

The 5,000-square-foot (464-square-meter) artificial habitat, called Park Here, is filled with trees, rocks, picnic benches and the recorded ambient sounds of Central Park in spring. On a recent weekday afternoon, babies played barefoot in the 75-degree (23 degrees Celsius) world while their parents ate cookies and sandwiches.

A movie night is planned on the lawn. Other days bring a ping pong competition, a trivia contest, wine tastings and soccer workshops.

But the park will be gone by mid-February.

The rest of the year, the space is a stage for business that plays on the “pop-up” retail method: a quick presentation of a product, performance or personality, with no commitment to a lease or contract. It’s usually set up in a mobile unit that can be assembled and disappear.

Since its inception four years ago, Openhouse Gallery has created installations for high-end clients such as auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, a group of Italian leather tanneries and Google. Other setups involved skating and stadium seating for World Cup soccer viewing.

In August, Jay-Z and Kanye West used Openhouse Gallery for the rollout of their “Watch The Throne” album. When Jay-Z tweeted “201 Mulberry Street, NYC,” thousands of people swarmed outside.

“It’s .2 acres with so much positive energy,” Daou says.

The garden is free to the public and open daily noon to 8 p.m.

The rest of the year, clients pay $4,000 to $8,000 a day for the venue.



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