For many neighbors of the Chelsea Market, the biggest concern over a massive addition to the market was the shape it would take and thus its impact on the High Line, which the market abuts. Love it or hate it, the High Line had become a major neighborhood amenity, one people did not want to see get any worse with a massive eight-story addition overhanging it.
Developer Jamestown Properties acceded to demands from the City Planning Commission—which oversaw the rezoning that helped preserve the High Line—to rejigger the building, so what kind of concessions could Council Speaker Christine Quinn possibly extract? Especially since she had reportedly waffled on whether or not to beat back the building entirely as she eyes crossing over to the other side of City Hall.
Well, what better way to appease NIMBYs and preservationists than with architectural protections and schools?
Today, the City Council’s land-use committee voted in favor of the project, with the stipulation the Jamestown commit not to alter the historic former Nabsico factory below the addition, protecting both the original structure and the alterations made to it over the years to create the new market.
“There have been numerous calls in the neighborhood to save the Chelsea Market, and I agree that the historic nature and food focused market should be saved,” Speaker Quinn said in a statement. “That is why the Council will vote today to preserve the iconic neighborhood treasure that is the Chelsea Market. In the original plan, there were no restrictions on what the developer could do to the unique and cherished ground floor retail space dominated by food vendors. The Council’s action permanently protects 75 percent of the current total interior ground floor concourse retail space for food-related uses.”
Jamestown will also create a youth technology center within the market to provide education services in tech and media for local Chelsea kids, particularly those from two nearby housing projects.
And in a further paean to over development, the Department of City Planning has agreed to look at altering the zoning in other areas of the neighborhood to ensure appropriate development occurs. The focus will be on the area bounded by 11th and 12th Avenues and will also include 85 and 99 10th Avenue, the South side of West 15th street and the east side of 10th Avenue between 14th and 15th Street.
“At each step in the approval process, Jamestown has worked to improve the plan, and the changes made by Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council strike a careful balance that offers benefits to the neighborhood and allows the project to proceed,” Jamestown COO Michael Philips said.