The controversial proposal to add a boutique hotel and office space to the Chelsea Market Building was certified Monday by the city Department of City Planning and will now go through the agency’s 7-month ULURP process, it was announced yesterday.
Jamestown Properties, the owners of the Chelsea Market Building, have requested a Zoning Text Amendment and a Zoning Map Amendment to help them build two new additions to the former factory building: a 240,000 square foot office addition and a 90,000 square foot hotel expansion.
Michael Phillips, the chief operating officer of Jamestown Properties, has long maintained that the expansion would bring in $200 million in construction-related spending, add $7 million in incremental property taxes a year, and introduce 1,200 new permanent jobs in industries like tech, media, and food service.
But the plan has been slammed by several local groups and politicians, blasting the expansion plan for creating a dangerous precedent for rezoning in the area while also deriding the design of the office addition itself.
At the crux of this matter is the zoning amendments that would need to be approved by the city should the plan go into effect.
The Zoning Text Amendment would in effect create a new subarea in the Special West Chelsea District, said a city official, who did not want to be named. This subarea would govern the Chelsea Market block, giving it an increase in FAR, from 5.0 base to a maximum of 7.5 FAR. A $19 million contribution made to the neighboring High Line Improvement Fund (the Chelsea Market abuts the High Line) will necessitate the FAR allowance.
The fact Jamestown Properties’ plan was certified for public review was disappointing news for Save Chelsea, perhaps the most vocal opponent of the Chelsea Market Expansion plan.
“We don’t think this merits certification for many, many reasons,” said Lesley Doyel, co-president of Save Chelsea.
Among those reasons is what Save Chelsea perceives as setting a dangerous precedent with a zoning change.
“It’s an area that is so densely congested already with hotels and office space,” said Ms. Doyel. “We think this will open the floodgates of overdevelopment.”
Mr. Phillips was not available for comment on Monday night.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Phillips said his company is committed to working with companies that are committed to staying in Chelsea.
“The synergistic relationship between the tenants on the upper floors and the food concourse contributes greatly to the success of the Market, and I believe to the success of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Phillips in a statement.
“The expansion will allow for more of that to happen here.”
The review process will include input from Community Board 4, the Borough President, and the City Planning Commission.
The New York City Council has final say in the vote.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was reportedly secretly uncomfortable with the Chelsea Market expansion plan, according to an insider. In addition to Save Chelsea, publications Chelsea Now and The Villager have all voiced their opposition to the proposed expansion.