Tracts of unused (or underused) Manhattan real estate have become increasingly rare in the past decade or so, and development-fever, which had slowed down for a bit in the recessionary years of late aughts, is revving up again. With a vengeance. The story plays out all over town–especially across the East River, in Brooklyn and Long Island City–but is maybe most striking on Manhattan far west side. Here, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District up through the suddenly bustling Hudson Yards, big changes, ones that will alter the city forever, are happening right now.
Let’s start south and head up. The Meatpacking District and West Chelsea along the High Line are no strangers to recent construction–these neighborhoods would be almost unrecognizable to someone who moved away even as recently as the late 1990s–but that doesn’t mean things are slowing down. I recently got a penthouse-terrace’s-eye-view of the downtown Whitney’s construction site, above, and a tour of the new High Line headquarters/visitor’s center, adjacent to the museum, which set to open later this year. Both projects have been in the works for awhile, are on schedule, and should bring even more pedestrian traffic (and the food and services they demand) to the area.
In fact, just last week renderings were released of a huge new retail outlet–16,000 square feet of street-level space–set to open later this summer a block north from the new Whitney, right on 10th Avenue where the Mobil station used to be. It remains to be seen what sort of stores and/or food will be moving in… which, of course, will be the key to everyone’s opinion as to whether the glassy structure, which sits under the High Line, is a welcome addition for area residents or just boring tourist bait. Let’s hope they do it right.
Meanwhile up at Hudson Yards, the biggest construction project in memory (its only rival is Battery Park City) is kicking into a higher gear. The transformation of the rail yards and decrepit warehouses of the far-west 30s into a dynamic residential, retail, cultural, media-/tech-industry center has for years been been talked about and hoped for, but now it seems certain to become a reality. Since last year, for example, some 3,500 residential units have either opened or are in construction in the Hudson Yards zone, with another 10,000 on their way. And just wait to extension of the 7 train to 11th Avenue opens in, possibly, 2014. The future, as always in this town, is upon us now.