Can someone please tell us which side of the Chelsea Market battle we should be on? Because the controversy over Jamestown Properties' plan to add glassy blocks of offices and hotel rooms above the historic facility is heating up something fierce, and we're still not clear on who is fighting the good fight. Let's review:
On the one hand, the old Nabisco factory is not a landmark (though it's on the National Register of Historic Places) and the city left it out of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, so additional development was a given. Chelsea Market is a vital money machine in the neighborhood, and the expansion would create and draw even more jobs to the area.
On the other, seriously, have you seen the renderings? It's like an entire downtown business district in some mid-size Midwest metropolis got swept up by a tornado and dropped onto an important piece of New York City history. How is it "compatible with the neighborhood," as a Jamestown rep told the Times?
On the one hand, the fact that Chelsea Market is not a landmark and NYU's Silver Towers are makes us question the laws of the universe. And preservationists make a strong case that developers are being allowed to trample on this area's proud industrial heritage too frequently, like at Superior Ink.
On the other, this, from last night's community board meeting: "I live in a penthouse, the highest old penthouse in Chelsea, and if you look out there is a forest of new buildings in the neighborhood. When I moved in 25 years ago, there was a clear view north and south on the river. Now it’s just skyscrapers." So New York City was supposed to be dipped in formaldehyde and frozen for all eternity to preserve your penthouse views?
On the one hand, the High Line would get about $17 million for long-term improvements from Jamestown Properties if the Chelsea Market is granted a zoning waiver and included in the Special West Chelsea Zoning District. Friends of the High Line strongly supports Jamestown's proposal.
On the other, as much as we love the High Line, some days we can't help but think it's mostly a tourist attraction and a tool for selling luxury condos. Does the High Line actually feel like part of the fabric of the city to everyday New Yorkers? Will that just take time? Do these questions have nothing to do with sticking hotel rooms on top of Buddakan?
See? We're torn. Unholy architectural abomination or important economic engine? The only thing we're sure of is that Jamestown, which the Times' Charles Bagli writes "has been taken aback by the uproar," really should have seen this storm coming.
· Plan to Build Up Chelsea Market Has Some Up in Arms [NYT]
· Chelsea Market Expansion Unveiled: Offices, Hotel, Anger! [Curbed]