Chelsea Market Expansion Plans Toned Down

By Mathew Katz on December 14, 2011 8:39pm 

CHELSEA — The verdict on the Chelsea Market expansion is in — and the cube is out.

Jamestown Properties, which owns the historic building that houses the upscale market, unveiled new designs for a proposed expansion — eliminating a controversial giant glass cube seen in a previous version in an attempt more closely coincide with the building's existing look.

The planned nine-story expansion above the west side of the existing building at 75 Ninth Ave. will include a new tiered structure ranging from 34,000 square feet at the base to 17,000 square feet on the top two stories.

The original design plan would have increased the building's height by 11 floors and included a glass finish at odds with the building's brick facade.

The revamped designs, which include a finish that more closely resembles the existing structure, come after community outrage over the original plan for the expansion. Some residents complained that the planned glass cube was out of character with Chelsea Market and would block light to West 16th Street.

"Our original design was intended to contrast with the nature of the existing building," said David Burns of Studios Architecture, which is behind the redesign plans. "The new design creates a dialogue with the industrial features of Chelsea market, and fits within the context of its neighbors."

The building, originally built in the 1890's and home of Nabisco, has become a hub of food vendors, restaurants, and high-tech offices. Jamestown hopes the expanded market will host even more tech companies and chic start-ups, though numerous neighborhood groups fear that the influx of high-salaried workers will drive up rents and drive out locals.

“The expansion is an opportunity to add over 1,000 permanent jobs in Chelsea and the City in industries like technology and media whose importance in the economy have been rapidly growing,” said Michael Phillips, managing director of Jamestown Properties, in a statement.

The expansion itself is contingent on a rezoning process, which needs to be approved by the city, that would put Chelsea Market into the Special West Chelsea District, created in 2005 to accommodate the High Line.

Jamestown said it expects to begin that procedure in early 2012.

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