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City Council Approves Chelsea Market Expansion

Chelsea Now
November 14, 2012
By Scott Stiffler

The reaction was as swift as the process was long.

The City Council’s much-anticipated vote on the vertical expansion of Chelsea Market prompted a flurry of emails, which arrived as this paper was going to press.

Put off for nearly two weeks due to unprecedented disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy, the council’s November 13 approval will allow Jamestown Properties to construct two office towers atop the Ninth and Tenth Avenue sides of their iconic property (in exchange for, among other things, a sizable donation to the High Line and the establishment of an Affordable Housing fund).

In a statement sent shortly after the council met, Jamestown Chief Operating Officer Michael Phillips hailed their decision as a means of providing “an important economic boost to New York City, creating more than 1,200 long-term jobs and 600 construction jobs…It is gratifying to know that Chelsea Market will continue to play a role as an anchor in the Chelsea neighborhood and as an important contributor to the city’s economic vitality.”

Minutes before that email was sent, Chelsea Now received a message penned by Andrew Berman (Executive Director, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) — with the backing of Save Chelsea, the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, the London Terrace Tenants Association and the Chelsea Village Partnership.

The statement maintained, “It’s deeply disappointing that they are allowing a beloved New York City landmark to be disfigured and one of the city’s most congested neighborhoods to be further overdeveloped. In spite of the pleas of the vast majority of this neighborhood’s residents, once again the interests of real estate developers have won out.”

With an estimated start date of 2015, it’s unlikely that the dust will settle by then on some (or any) of the contentious matters over which preservationists and pro-business advocates repeatedly clashed at a series of Community Board, City Planning Commission and City Council public hearings. For more detailed coverage, see our November 28 print edition.