It seems hard to believe now that there were people–including plenty of local business owners and not a few residential real estate developers–who were anti-High Line, calling the abandoned railway tracks that run above and parallel to 10th Avenue an eyesore, and lobbying hard for the city to just tear it all down. Fortunately for them, and for everyone else, Chelsea locals Robert Hammond and Joshua David had another idea, and in 1999 formed the community group Friends of the High Line.
Inspired by the Promande plantee in Paris as well as Chicago’s great Millenium Park, Hammond and David’s concept of transforming the space into an elevated public greenway gained prominent backers (including financier Philip Falcone, designer Diane von Furstenberg, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg), gained legal momentum and popular support, and, in 2006, ground was broken (so to speak) on the first stretch of the High Line.
Today, of course, the High Line is one of New York City’s great success stories. In 2010, the High Line drew more than two million visitors, and this year, with the High Line Phase 2 opening last month, extending the park all the way up to West 30th Street, that number is sure to increase. Needless to say, this tremendous influx of tourists and New Yorkers alike to the area has generated numerous business opportunities in the community.
Add to that the astounding fact that, since the High Line opened in June of 2009, there has not been a single serious crime reported in the park. Not one felony in more than two years! As the New York Times asks, “How many other mile-long sections of New York City are this safe?”
No wonder developers have been flocking to build in proximity to the High Line. In fact, according to Mayor Bloomberg, “since work on the High Line began, we’ve seen the development of or planning for more than $2 billion in private investment, adding thousands of new residential units, thousands of new jobs, 1,000 new hotel rooms, and new restaurants, galleries and shops.”
Among those thousands of new residential units, of course, are plenty of luxury rental apartments neighboring the High Line–including those in the Chelsea Muse, for example, and Port 10, and the Ohm, and The Tate–and more are on the way, including something called Chelsea Skybox, to be constructed on 11th Avenue and 23rd Street, and which will include both event space and luxury lofts for rent. Bottom line: The High Line makes this west Chelsea neighborhood a nice place visit, AND you’d definitely want to live there.