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Controversial 335 Foot Tower Will Soar Over W. 15th St.

By DNAinfo Staff on June 20, 2011 7:04am  | Updated on June 20, 2011 7:07am

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CHELSEA — A controversial new tower will soar nearly 335 feet above West 15th Street, according to new zoning diagrams unveiled by the city.

The drawings show that builders are planning a 25-story residential tower at 31 W. 15th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, with the majority of space on the first sixth floors dedicated to Xavier High School.

The elite Jesuit school for boys sold its air rights to developer Alchemy Construction in exchange for the new space.

While residents are still waiting for full building plans that show details of the proposed design — which will only be released once the building is officially approved by the city — the drawings added more fuel to the fire for residents who've been rallying for years against the tower, which they say is way too tall for the narrow, residential stretch.

"With no street level setback and standing at 334 feet tall, these plans confirm our fears that this building will be three times the height of almost every other building in the neighborhood," said a spokeswoman for the Lower Chelsea Alliance, a community group that formed to fight the plans.

"Short of cutting off 15 stories, there is nothing that will make this building appropriate for the surrounding community," she said.

Allen Mohr, 52, who lives on the eighth floor of a building on the block across the street, was equally resigned.

"There aren't a lot of surprises here," he said.

Demolition at the site is currently underway as Alchemy works to revise building plans which were rejected by the city on March 23.

The building's zoning plans were approved earlier this month, a Department of Buildings spokeswoman said.

Residents, who unsuccessfully sued to stop the construction of a hotel on the site back in 2008, are once again in consultation with lawyers and lobbyists.

Alchemy and the building's architect did not return calls for comment on the plans.

The site before demolition began.
The site before demolition began.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin