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Activists Against Chelsea Market Expansion Meet With Pols

By Mathew Katz | August 12, 2011 8:35am | Updated on August 12, 2011 8:51am
A rendering of the proposed building that could appear on top of Chelsea Market overlooking 10th Avenue, as seen from the West Side Highway.
A rendering of the proposed building that could appear on top of Chelsea Market overlooking 10th Avenue, as seen from the West Side Highway.
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Courtesy of David Holowka

CHELSEA — A developer trying to top off Chelsea Market is facing fierce opposition from local activists.

Jamestown Properties wants to add a 250-office glass tower above a section of the market overlooking 10th Avenue, as well as a 12-story, 90,000 square-foot hotel on the Ninth Avenue side, over Buddakan restaurant.

But a collection of Chelsea residents and historic preservationists have been meeting with high-profile officials to argue that the development would hurt the building and make the largely residential neighborhood too commercial.

"It's a case of overdevelopment," said 68-year-old Chelsea resident Lesley Doyel. "It's becoming too congested. All the mom and pop stores are closing."

Doyel is co-president of Save Chelsea, which is spearheading the fight against the development. The group, along with representatives from other local organizations, met with Council Speaker Christine Quinn last month to voice its concerns about the proposal.

That same coalition met with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer on Thursday. Both officials have yet to state a position on the issue.

Quinn's office said that she met with both the community and the developer to address questions and concerns.

Jamestown's plan to expand Chelsea Market would require a change to the city's zoning of the block to include it in the Special West Chelsea District, which was created to allow the construction and renovation of the High Line.

The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Doyel said her group is afraid that if the zoning was to change, it would open the floodgates to more high-rise developments.

"It would create a canyon of tall buildings around the High Line," she said. "It'd cast the neighborhood in shadow."

Save Chelsea Market now has 300 members, and has collected nearly 1,500 signatures on a petition fighting the development.

"The idea that they need to add 10 to 15 stories to the building is ridiculous," said Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "This historic complex doesn't need to be defaced and defigured."

Chelsea Market began as a complex of Nabisco cookie-baking factories in the 1890s.

The coalition is still targeting other politicians. Next on its list is the city's Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio.

Jamestown has yet to make a formal application to the council to change the building's zoning.