Last night Chelsea residents had an opportunity to publicly comment on the Chelsea Market Expansion plan and the sentiment in the room ran strongly against the project. The main line of argument during the public hearing portion of the Manhattan Community Board Meeting held at St. Luke's Hospital was that the community had fought long and hard to zone the neighborhood, so CB4 members were urged to maintain that zoning and not carve out exceptions in the hopes of gaining concessions from the developer Jamestown Properties. The alleged threats of the expansion included economic development displacing current residents, the dilution of the neighborhood's socio-cultural diversity, and the fact that Jamestown was going to make a shit-ton of money from this project and they're not even Americans.
One board member attempted to hammer home the homogenizing threat to Chelsea's diversity that the project posed, by invoking the colorless future grads of fine midwestern universities, who were sure to fill all the high-paying tech and media jobs that are supposed to be in the pro-column for the expansion. (Translation for Michigan and Ohio State grads: Go home! Boo Blue! You Suckeyes!)
A leader of the group Save Chelsea argued that by altering the neighborhood's zoning rules to allow the Chelsea Market Expansion, Jamestown and its shareholders were being gifted a $340 million windfall profit. He then chastised the Friends of the High Line for supporting the expansion and his calculation of Jamestown's profit in exchange for "a place to go to the bathroom." Josh David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, had spoken earlier about the support that Jamestown committed to The High Line, including the construction of public restrooms and a donation to the High Line's capital budget.
Just to make it perfectly clear, one public speaker said that German-incorporated Jamestown was a malignancy, and what they were doing in Chelsea would never be allowed in Europe. "Jamestown is a cancer. You cannot negotiate with a cancer."
There were some supporters, but most stepped up to the mic for just a few seconds to express their support and didn't bring the zingers. Others silently bore stickers expressing approval for the expansion project. Ian MacGregor of The Lobster Place expressed support for the expansion and credited the Chelsea Market for enabling the creation of a lot of jobs. Jamestown hopes to make a few more adjustments to its plans in an effort to appease Chelsea residents, before CB4 makes its recommendation vote at the end of the month.
· Chelsea Market Expansion coverage [Curbed]