Construction has exploded along the High Line ever since it opened: condos hover over the rehabilitated track and look out onto the Hudson, while the new location of the Whitney Museum is making headway on the southern end of the park as Google moves into its NYC headquarters to a building just a few short blows away. Now, the historic Chelsea Market may be looking at a facelift following approval from the New York City Council for increasing density in the building by developers, Jamestown Properties. The proposed vertical extension, which has made a brief appearance on a few architecture blogs, will provide the additional in demand office and retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood.
Despite community resistance and a zoning battle that has lasted for months between Community Board 4 and Jamestown Properties, plans to upzone Chelsea Market have passed. The building has a long standing history in the neighborhood, with 100,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor that has a wide variety of retailers and is both a tourist destination as well as a community fixture. As Chelsea has grown in popularity and has become associated with creative design companies and technological innovation, the real estate market has expanded within a limited area of available space. And so the debate begins on whether to and how to satisfy the demand for real estate in the historic district. Jamestown Properties proposed the now approved enlargement to Chelsea Market as part of a rezoning of the Special West Chelsea District and following contributions to recreational areas nearby. The developer will give around $12 million to the High Line and $5 million to a fund to build affordable housing, in addition to another $1 million to help launch an internship program at the nearby Fulton Houses. Meanwhile, community board members look at this scenario as a threat to the already dense Chelsea community. Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, calls the proposal a “disfiguration” of the historic neighborhood. Historic Preservation is always a concern for developers, but it is also part of how New York City transforms and evolves. While residents may be wary of the developers intentions, the project will create more than 1,200 long-term jobs and 600 construction jobs, according to Jamestown. In the long run, the expansion may prove beneficial to the neighborhood. via Architect’s Newspaper by Nicole Anderson