Up Above Chelsea

Chelsea Arts Tower.

Around 8 p.m. last night, several partygoers–who had been toasting the Chelsea Arts Tower–tore themselves away from Cheim & Read Gallery, and took in the city view from high above the High Line.

Although Calvin Klein–who recently dropped $4 million on an 18th floor unit–didn’t show up, there were plenty of real estate industry types and art aficionados (like Anthony Haden-Guest) on hand. The stylish group boarded a rickety, cage-like elevator, and headed up to the building’s, still unfinished, 15th floor.

In a few months, the 20-story, glass and concrete tower–located on a former West 25th Street parking lot–will be completed. Full-floor, commercial condo units have already been scooped up by Marlborough Gallery, and several prominent art collectors–including Adam Lindemann.

Up above the low-lying galleries in the neighborhood, contracting consultant George Protheroe assured the guests that the Statue of Liberty was visible from the building’s south side, or had been earlier in the day, when the light was better.

And Mr. Protheroe also hinted that the tower would soon have a high-rise neighbor, although “not quite as tall as this one.” Nevertheless, he remained cagey: “I’m not at liberty to say yet what it is.” Hmm….

Earlier in the evening, down in the ground-level gallery space next door, partygoers sipped their wine and listened to stories of Chelsea’s far less ritzy (and not so distant) past.

“Dating back 10 or 12 years ago, it was strictly kind of a gritty, warehouse area,” said Stuart Siegel, managing director at Grubb & Ellis. “It was kind of a blighted area. Not much money had been spent in the buildings.”

Of course, Mr. Siegel was quite prescient; he paid only $9 million for the site. With the tower bringing in about $750 to $1200 a square foot, an average of $3 million per unit, he’s doing very well.

Designed to house galleries and private collections, the 75,000-square-foot structure will open in August.

Lidija Haas Up Above Chelsea