Citing the need for commercial development to co-exist with New York City's neighborhoods and not overwhelm them, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer announced today his conditional disapproval of the proposed Chelsea Market Expansion. Borough President Stringer's recommendations address a rezoning sought by Jamestown Properties for the inclusion of the Chelsea Market complex into the Special West Chelsea District.
The proposed expansion includes a 230 foot-tall, office tower on 10th Avenue, a 135-foot building on 9th Avenue, and a rezoning that would make the Chelsea Market complex more than 120,000 square feet denser than blocks immediately to the north.
"The West Chelsea community has played a vital role in the growth of our creative and high-tech economies in New York City, and it is also one of our City's most distinctive residential neighborhoods, " Stringer said. "Unfortunately, the Chelsea Market expansion proposal in its current form risks destroying this community's special character with tall, out-of context buildings and by adding new density to already crowded streets that are at odds with existing guidelines for the area."
"I strongly encourage Jamestown to continue working with the City Planning Commission and the Council to reexamine their development plans and find a solution that can work for all stakeholders. The plan in its current form is wrong for Chelsea and wrong for New York City."
In his ULURP recommendations, Borough President Stringer proposed several key modifications for the project and urged further negotiation on the part of Jamestown Properties. The modifications include:
Shifting the proposed addition from over 10th Avenue to over 9th Avenue and lowering the addition's base height to 170 feet and capping its height at 184 feet in total. This recommendation respects the original intent of the Special District to shift density away from the High Line. Reducing the project's density to better match densities in the surrounding Special District.
Codifying restrictions on construction of a hotel on the site; requiring the provision of funds for affordable housing; preserving the existing character of the retail market within the building; integrating job opportunities with the community and incorporating environmental sustainability.
Stringer noted that in 2005, the city created the Special West Chelsea District and the High Line Park based on specific planning principles that included moving density away from the High Line and carefully crafting buildings to provide light, air and a positive pedestrian experience. The current proposal, however, seeks to undo many of those principles by rezoning an entire city block to create significantly more density than is currently permitted. Most importantly, it would be the first time the special district would move density to and directly over the High Line – instead of trying to move it away.
"Moving a 230-foot tall building directly over the High Line would diminish one of the main catalysts for this area's vibrant growth," said Stringer. "You don't build a park and then undermine it – but that's what this proposal does. It's precisely the wrong approach."
Additionally, the Borough President's ULURP recommendations noted that the proposed rezoning would allow the Chelsea Market complex to be razed and has no provisions to preserve the existing Chelsea Market concourse, an existing neighborhood amenity. The Borough President strongly believes that any future proposal for development must respect the historic buildings of Chelsea Market and preserve them in perpetuity through a restrictive declaration.
In June, Community Board 4 voted to conditionally disapprove the proposed actions based on similar issues of concern. The project will continue to move through the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure; the next step will be a review by the City Planning Commission and then final review by the City Council.
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