Collector and dealer Lio Malca joins New York gallery migration from Chelsea to Tribeca

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Gallerist Lio Malca will relocate this spring to a new exhibition space in Tribeca, making him the latest dealer to relocate from the Chelsea gallery district to the trendy Lower Manhattan neighbourhood that is quickly becoming New York’s premier art world destination.

Lio Malca, a hotelier and art dealer from Colombia now based in New York, says he’d been looking for a space in Tribeca “for a while” before coming across 60 White Street, a late 19th-century building with luxury condos on the top floors. Malca was first introduced to the property by Jonathan Travis, a real estate broker with Redwood Property Group who has brokered deals for many of the art galleries moving into Tribeca.

“Tribeca is very special because it’s not intimidating,” Malca says. “The buildings on the streets have this romantic feeling and incredible facades, but they’re not more than five or six floors each. Every building is different and has its own strong personality, which is not the case for uptown or Chelsea.”

Malca says he was immediately drawn by the view of the space’s “dramatic” triple-height open space, 35ft walls, exposed brick and natural light from rear skylights. While he was initially looking to rent a space in Tribeca, he ultimately bought at 60 White Street because the owner only wanted to sell.

“It has the beauty and the warmth of the neighbourhood,” Malca says. “I like the idea of being able to transform spaces, but they have to have an energy at first that you feel you can do something very special.”

With about 5,000 sq. ft, the new space will give Malca room to display a “broader scope” of art. The new exhibition space will open in May with an exhibition by the Spanish painter Rafa Macarrón, but Malca is also envisioning installations and musical performances in the larger space. The new location is being renovated by studioMDA, an architecture and design firm that has worked with a number of other art galleries relocating to Tribeca including Alexander Gray and Marian Goodman.

Malca’s space doesn’t operate like a traditional gallery—while he does place some pieces in private collections and museums, he says his primary goal is to put pieces from his own collection on public display. His spaces, including his current Chelsea gallery on West 26th Street, are part of a larger network that includes an art residency program in Sian Ka’an, Mexico, where artists can create work to display in Malca’s galleries and hotel (a former mansion in Tulum, Mexico, once owned by Pablo Escobar).

At 60 White Street in Tribeca, Malca will have neighbours in Jane Lombard Gallery, located directly next-door, and be on the same block as R & Company, Grimm, 1969 Gallery, Deli Gallery and others.

Malca has joined dozens of other galleries decamping or expanding to Tribeca, often from Chelsea. Timothy Taylor announced it would move to Tribeca in 2023 and last year Pace opened an outpost in the neighbourhood. Other galleries that have moved to or opened satellite locations in Tribeca in recent years include David Zwirner, The Hole and James Cohan. Postmasters, among the earliest galleries to relocate to Tribeca from Chelsea in 2013, closed its space last year after losing a legal battle with its landlords.

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