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Whitney Museum Getting Half Off Its High Line Purchase

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Like a sad puppy in search of a happy home, last spring the model for Renzo Piano's new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District sat in a store window looking for love. Not a peep about the museum, the projected anchor of the High Line's starting point at Gansevoort and Washington Streets, has been heard since?until today! The Times reports that the Whitney signed a contract last month with the EDC to buy the city-owned site, a former meatpacking plant. And now we know just how badly the city wants the Whitney in the freshly paved-over spot, which has become something of an eyesore for the High Line. Answer: Very.

The Whitney will pay $18 million for the land, half of the appraised value of the property. The museum has up to four years to close on the purchase and five years to begin construction on the fortress-like building, which would be double the size of the Whitney on the Upper East Side. With the closing date not determined, the museum will make monthly payments of $50,000 to the city that will be credited toward the purchase price, with the balance due at closing. The Whitney will also have the right of first offer on the Gansevoort Meat Market Cooperative site just to the north. If the meat dudes don't renew their lease when it expires in 2014 (and they may not, considering the mass exodus of industry from the increasingly glitzy district), the city-owned site could become yet another Whitney expansion.

Generous terms, but for the museum, the challenge is raising the $435 million needed to build Renzo Piano's Whitney MePa. Museum officials launched a fund-raising campaign last May, and will only say they've raised "a very substantial amount." The Whitney plans to sell five town houses next to its UES building when the market improves to help fund the downtown expansion. Sounds like a lot of ifs, so maybe there should be a Plan B for that big empty lot. Water slides down from the High Line?
· Whitney Advances Plans for Museum Near the High Line [NYT]
· Whitney MePa coverage [Curbed]