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Crowd Converges on City Planning for Chelsea Market Debate

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The usual sides took up arms at the City Planning Commission this morning regarding Jamestown Properties' proposal to rezone, renovate, and add to Chelsea Market. We're rounding, but we'd say that half of the testimonies were all for the economic benefits of the construction (increased foot traffic, 1,000 added tech jobs), while the other, and much more verbal section of the crowd (it was a crowd?majority of the attendees had to watch from a screen in the front room) was all for the preservation of West Chelsea's aesthetic.

Jamestown's lawyer described the ways the development was trying to be conscious of the authenticity of Chelsea, including a comprehensive comparison to surrounding building heights and significant amenity contributions to the High Line (freight elevator, education space, and more public restrooms), the opposition was immovable.

City Planning Commission member Michelle De La Uz asked, "How much sky are you going to take away?" The answer: approximately 150-180 feet of sky, down from Jamestown's initial plan of a 250-foot building. Everything at the meeting was an arms race. Even the number of petition signatures from the two sides was a fight: the opposition had 1,300 signatures and the support had 1,802.

Sentimental testimonies came from long-term residents of Chelsea who were worried that the larger building would compromise Chelsea Market and that a re-zoning could easily be manipulated in planning. "We realize that the Gold Rush is on," said one, "and the gold rushers have found Chelsea." This was just a public hearing, so City Planning hasn't ruled on the proposal yet, but we're glad everyone had this chance to air their feelings.
?Arabella Watters
· Chelsea Market coverage [Curbed]