CHELSEA —The once-industrial area in West Chelsea is quickly becoming a mecca of art galleries, condos, and restaurants. Nearly every block of the area west of Ninth Avenue has a construction project on it, with many new buildings popping up around the High Line.
Now, realtors are using the neighborhood itself to sell units in pricey condos. +aRt (pronounced 'plus art') is a new condo at 540 West 28th St. that's offering prospective buyers a tour of not just model units, but also of the up-and-coming neighborhood around it.
"There's always some hesitation that comes with a neighborhood that's evolving," said Robin Schneiderman, a broker for the building and an erstwhile tour guide. "People don't understand how far along this neighborhood had come as a residential place, as a place to call home."
The 91-unit building has condos ranging in price from $530,000 to $2,150,000.
Along with +aRt, dozens of other buildings are opening in the area over the next few years. Across the street, in a now-empty lot, luxury apartment developer AvalonBay is planning to build a 690-unit rental property.
+aRt's developers own a similar building nearby, Chelsea Muse at 537 West 27th St., that's rented out 26 of 28 units in just under two months on the market.
"The High Line has had a dramatic impact on the neighborhood, " Schneiderman said. "It's become a destination — tourist-wise and resident-wise."
Not all of the neighborhood fits the image of West Chelsea as an artistic haven. Eleventh Avenue is still home to car dealerships, and +aRt itself is located next to Scores. Developers said that's a "non-issue" for buyers, and that the tour gives them a indication of the direction the neighborhood is going in.
"People need to get comfortable and excited about this neighborhood for real," Schneiderman said.
For their part, some potential buyers see a condo — or even a rental — in the neighborhood as a sort of investment.
Raul Monteballo, 40, lives in Gramercy and is considering buying a condo in West Chelsea. He said he thinks the neighborhood will really pick up once the final section of the High Line opens.
"It's just cool, man," he said. "I want to be where it's going to be cool."
The neighborhood tours will continue through September, every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at +aRt.