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Community Board 4 will soon weigh in on the matter of allowing Jamestown Properties to vertically expand Chelsea Market — by adding as much as 330,000 square feet of office and hotel space to the building’s Ninth and Tenth Aves. sides.
We urge C.B. 4 to oppose this plan in the strongest manner possible. A straightforward “Yes” vote seems unlikely. Equally unacceptable, however, is a “Yes, but” or a “No, but” option — which would recommend approving the ULURP (uniform land use review procedure) application if certain conditions are met.
Eliminating the hotel and establishing an affordable housing fund are among the commendable alterations being discussed. But no amount of public good will compensate for the lasting impact such a decision would have on the Special West Chelsea District’s purpose, vision and integrity.
For more than a year, concerned residents of Chelsea have demonstrated good citizenship by regularly attending C.B. 4 meetings in large numbers —hoping to influence the board’s decision on this critical project. An unequivocal “No” vote will demonstrate that C.B. 4 has heard, and heeded, the will of the very community it exists to serve.
A vote of total denial will also send a message to those who will ultimately decide the fate of this project. A “No” vote from Board 4 will further embolden Borough President Scott Stringer, the City Planning Commission and Council Speaker Christine Quinn to stop this project, which in our view should never have received ULURP certification to begin with.
The dismal architecture and dubious claims of a pressing need for more office space are reasons enough to disavow this plan. But if given the green light, this project would undoubtedly encourage developers with similar vertical ambitions for the surrounding area. The implications of such a precedent cannot be denied, and must be taken into account.
There are vast tracts of available commercial space in Manhattan, or soon to come online at Hudson Yards, or the World Trade Center site, for New York’s growing media and tech industries. Jamestown’s project is marginal to the health of that sector, but highly detrimental to Chelsea Market and the surrounding neighborhood itself.
This project has none of the redeeming qualities of other similarly ambitious ULURP-approved endeavors. Unlike Rudin Management, New York University and Trinity Real Estate, Jamestown Properties does not have deep roots in the community it profits from. They have not made, and are unlikely to make, any lasting commitment to Chelsea.
Nor does their one-shot, contentious $19 million donation to the robust High Line in any way compensate for stealing in perpetuity light and air from the High Line itself.
Jamestown Properties has done nothing to dispel the perception that they are temporary stewards of this property. On the other hand, there are other properties in our great city that Jamestown should consider purchasing, improving and selling.
C.B. 4 and our public officials must not permit this developer to irreparably deform the iconic structure that is the Chelsea Market and the phenomenally successful High Line park.