A pair of Chelsea landmarks could be in for a major overhaul. And not necessarily in a good way, according to some residents. Chelsea apartment dwellars can go on and on about the things they love about their neighborhood.
There’s the High Line, of course, the massively popular aerial greenway which even after almost four years of treating millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike to fantastic views, excellent design, and brilliant landscaping, still finds new ways to bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded of city folk.
Chelsea residents also have more than 400 art galleries right nearby, lining both sides of the streets in the 20s between 10th and 11th Avenues, and offering a constantly changing, peerless selection of modern and contemporary art. Add on all of the restaurant and nightlife options, loads of cool new architecture, and easy access to the great Hudson River Park (not to mention the massive Chelsea Piers sports complex), and it’s east to see why Chelsea rental apartments are among the most coveted in town.
There are changes in the works for two Chelsea landmarks, however, and some locals are less than pleased. I’ll start with the more emotionally-charged renovation, to that one-time bastion of beats, rock-n-rollers, and alternative artists, musicians, and writers of stripes, the Chelsea Hotel.
New Yorkers will remember that last year the legendary home to the likes of Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, William S. Burroughs, Janis Joplin, Charles Bukowski, and Bob Dylan, among dozens more hall-of-famers, was purchased by real estate investor Joseph Chetrit, who immediately broke everyone’s heart by stripping the lobby of its world-renowned artwork, and then proceeded to do the same to the upstairs rooms, including Thomas Wolfe’s old suite, in which he worked on You Can’t Go Home Again in 1938.
Money is the motivation for all of this renovation, of course, as Chetrit is said to be amping up the luxury and turning at least some of the space into high-end condos… which is why he also wants to add a two-story rooftop bar to the top of the Chelsea Hotel.
But while there wasn’t much anyone could do to stop Chetrit from gutting the heart and history out of the interior–the Chetrit Group did pay $80 million for it, after all–there are some who believe they can stop him from messing with the exterior of the protected, landmarked building. We’ll see who wins this next round.
Another Chelsea landmark slated for a (much larger) vertical addition and a (potentially much larger) fight: the Chelsea Market, which has been one of the great success stories in town since it re-opened in 1997, transforming the old National Biscuit Company factory (where, by the way, the Oreo was invented) into a much-loved food court and sample-sale shopping mecca.
Broadcast and creative companies, including the local news channel NY1, Google, and the Food Network, have taken over the upper floors of the building, and everything seemed nicely in balance for both out-of-town visitors and Chelsea residents alike.
However, the owners of the two-block complex Jamestown Properties are eager to add add a whopping nine floors and 240,000 square feet of office space to the Chelsea Market building proper, AND a 90,000 square foot hotel on the Ninth Avenue side. Jamestown needs the City Council to approve a zoning change in order to get its way, and given the vehement displeasure with which the plans have so far been greeted, expect this battle to go on for awhile.
Time will tell the fate of these two popular Chelsea Landmarks.
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