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Historic Chelsea Seminary Becoming Housing for the Unholy?

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Chelsea's feathers were ruffled when the neighborhood's iconic General Theological Seminary?two rows of landmark buildings between 20th and 21st Streets and Ninth and Tenth Avenues, with a secluded private park in between?let a developer build luxury apartments on its land. But the initial tower plan was scaled back immensely, and the historic Episcopalian institution said it needed to raise money to survive. The same reason was given when the G.T.S. successfully campaigned to open up its hotel to the public after neighbors complained they had done just that illegally. Apparently these efforts haven't created the bankroll the Seminary was hoping for. New plan: fire sale!

Last week, Chelsea Now reported some blockbuster news: The Seminary has entered into a deal to sell some of its buildings to the Brodsky Organization, the developer that turned the parcel of land on Ninth Avenue into the Chelsea Enclave luxury condop, where apartments are currently priced between $1.3 million and $10.75 million and the Seminary's serene park (known as the "Close") is pitched as the residents' backyard. The Seminary is calling the deal "The Plan to Choose Life." Heavy.

The Seminary needs to get out of $41 million in debt, and this arrangement will help the men of the cloth balance their books by 2013 and assure a healthy future. Then again, they said that the last couple of times. Papers were signed on November 29, and expect a nasty fight before all the necessary go-aheads are given, especially because it seems like the Seminary kept everything hush-hush. Preservationists would have preferred a more public confession than what priests are used to.

Here's a look at the buildings that could be, er, converted:

2, 3, 4 Chelsea Square (seen above): Currently used as faculty housing, and located pretty darn close to the Chelsea Enclave. Sky bridge???

422 West 20th Street: Technically just outside the G.T.S. campus. It's a large building used for student housing, preschool and day care facilities and a student-run neighborhood ministry.

West Building: The oldest building on the campus, and in need of a pricey restoration that the Seminary has said it doesn't have the money for. Handles a slew of uses, including offices, a music room, student lounge, a Center for Christian Spirituality and a Center for Peace and Reconciliation.

Below is a campus map pulled from the Seminary's website that points out the buildings being sold. We haven't heard the last of this one.

· Concern Over General Theological Seminary’s Plan to Sell [Chelsea Now]
· The General Theological Seminary [Official Site]
· General Theological Seminary coverage [Curbed]

General Theological Seminary

440 West 21st St., New York, NY 10011

422 West 20th Street

422 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011