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Barneys Abandons Plans For 16th Street Loading Dock That Neighbors Opposed

By Maya Rajamani | April 8, 2016 5:25pm | Updated on April 11, 2016 8:48am
 The women's shoes section on the second floor of Barneys New York's downtown flagship store.
The women's shoes section on the second floor of Barneys New York's downtown flagship store.
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Photograph by Scott Frances, courtesy of Barneys New York

CHELSEA — Barneys New York has abandoned its quest for a loading dock on a residential street, after “outraged” neighbors maintained it would increase traffic congestion, noise and pollution on their block.

The luxury department store has withdrawn its application to convert three parking spots on West 16th Street into a dock for loading and unloading pricey merchandise, said 100 West 16th Street Block Association chairman Paul Groncki at a Community Board 4 meeting Wednesday.

“I want to thank the [board's] transportation committee for rejecting their request,” he said. “It’s not a parking issue — it’s a quality-of-life issue.”

CB4 chairwoman Delores Rubin confirmed that Barneys had withdrawn its application.

The luxury department store presented plans for the dock at a transportation committee meeting last month, citing the need for it near its freight entrance on West 16th Street.

The flagship store has been using dollies and pallet jacks to move its goods from a truck parked on Seventh Avenue to the entrance, which is nearly 75 feet away, but Barneys' attorney said the company feared that luxury goods could be stolen while the truck was unattended.

Transporting the goods through the store’s main entrance was not an option, as the dollies and pallet jackets could damage the store’s new marble floors, another Barneys representative said at the meeting last month.

But Chelsea residents, including Council of Chelsea Block Associations president Bill Borock, maintained the store should put “people before clothes” and use the main entrance, as discount retailer Loehmann’s — which previously occupied the space — had done.

“We have a very different brand than Loehmann’s,” Barneys’ representative responded at the meeting.

Neighbors and some committee members were also concerned with the fact that Barneys had originally promised the block association it would deliver its wares from the Seventh Avenue space when it applied for a liquor license for a restaurant inside the store, but didn’t include that as a stipulation in its application.

Barneys told CB4’s business licenses and permits committee that DOT said they couldn’t use the Seventh Avenue space to load and unload items, but a DOT spokeswoman said the department had “no records of an official request” for a loading zone at the store’s Seventh Avenue entrance.

Representatives for Barneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

On Friday, Borock said Chelsea residents were “very happy” with the turn of events.

“We’re very glad they withdrew — we figured it would look bad if they went before the full board and were rejected,” he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Groncki touched upon the tumultuous relationship Chelsea residents had with Barneys when it first occupied the flagship space.

“Barney’s has lied to us before,” he said. “I trust they will lie to us again.”