Chelsea Market Expansion Approved by Majority of Residents, Supporters Say

By Mathew Katz | February 14, 2012 4:03pm 

CHELSEA — A new poll released by a group in favor of a controversial expansion to Chelsea Market found that 62 percent of Chelsea residents also support the plan — despite vehement opposition from residents at public meetings.

The Chelsea Market Coalition, a collection of pro-business groups supporting the expansion, sponsored the poll conducted by Global Strategy Group, but would not release the poll itself or reveal its sample size. Groups against the expansion cried foul, citing that an overwhelming majority of those attending public meetings on the subject expressed opposition to the expansion.

At a meeting in January, only one person — a representative from Friends of the High Line, which stands to benefit financially from the expansion — stood up in favor of  the proposal by Jamestown Properties to add nine floors and 240,000 square feet of office space to the market at 75 Ninth Ave., along with a 90,000 square foot hotel on the Ninth Avenue side.

"I put no credence in this poll. I don't know of any individuals in the whole neighborhood who are for this," said Lesley Doyel, who heads up Save Chelsea, a community group that's fought against the expansion for over a year. "I can't name one, and we've been at that for a while.

Doyel said her organization had collected over 2,000 signatures on a paper petition against the expansion. Along with several other community organizations, Save Chelsea launched an online petition against the rezoning on Tuesday

Jamestown needs to convince the City Council to approve a zoning change that would put Chelsea Market into the Special West Chelsea District, an area created largely to facilitate the construction of the High Line.

"It’s no surprise that a poll paid for by those who want to build these huge additions on top of Chelsea Market says what they paid for it to say," wrote Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, in an email.

"However, at every public meeting on the issue, the public has been virtually unanimous in expressing strong opposition to the plan, and literally hundreds of neighbors have signed petitions and sent letters to elected officials in opposition."

A spokesman for the Chelsea Market Coalition defended the poll and fired back at opponents' claims.

"The poll was conducted by a well established fully credentialed company that has a long track record of determining public opinion on a wide range of matters, their credibility and methodology speaks for itself," he said.

"In terms of appearances at public sessions it is almost always the case that those types of meetings offer platform for a certain voice; they are very often not reflective of full public sentiment.”

The group said it surveyed residents of Midtown, the West Village and Chelsea, finding 72 percent of respondents were enthusiastic about the creation of new amenities of the High Line, and 70 percent supported the creation of new jobs.

A study commissioned by Jamestown last year said that the expansion would accommodate roughly 1,000 new office jobs and 1,200 construction jobs.