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Curbed Cup First Round: (2) West Chelsea vs. (15) Hell Square

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The Curbed Cup, our annual award to the New York City neighborhood of the year, for the past three years has been determined by reader vote. This year, we're upping the ante with a 16-neighborhood elimination tournament spanning the month of December. The first round continues today with two more faceoffs, the winners of which will meet in round two.

Another seeming first-round mismatch here. West Chelsea (Chelsea west of Ninth Avenue, for argument's sake), the tournament's #2 seed, had one of the most interesting years on the real estate development scene of any neighborhood—Frank Gehry's IAC Building opened to tenants, while ground broke on Jean Nouvel's blinding 100 Eleventh Avenue and Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses—all on the same block. Not to mention the High Line and the epic shitshow that became club row on West 28th. The neighborhood squares off against #15 seed Hell Square, the infested center of the Lower East Side, which narrowly defeated Hudson Square, 51% to 49%, in its play-in round earlier in the week. So who moves on now to round two?

West Chelsea (Ninth Avenue to Hudson River)
2007 Notables:
· Gehry's IAC Building had some, um, structural issues that reportedly led to a lawsuit
· Jean Nouvel's blinding vision for the West Side Highway took shape
· Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses might be even more batshit crazy
· But craziest of all? Annabelle Selldorf's in-apartment parking lots
· Progress on the High Line creeped north, with more to come in '08
· With West 28th Street in deep decay, even Amy Sacco looked for an out

Hell Square (Northern Portion of Lower East Side)
2007 Notables:
· Scored its first (and Manhattan's second) mechanical bull
· Learned to love $5,580/month rents for new 2BRs
· Saw itself terrorized by a temporary Steve Madden outlet that's already closed
· And tormented by Microsoft Zune's inept marketing team
· Endured the closing of the legendary Tonic and the legendary Sin-e

Other notables we forgot? Do let us know. Neighborhood smack-talk encouraged in the comments, too, natch.