The stated purposes of the West Chelsea Historic District include encouraging and guiding the development of West Chelsea as a “dynamic mixed-use neighborhood,” as well as ensuring “that the form of new buildings relate to and enhance the neighborhood character and the High Line Open Space.”[i] The application supports both of these goals and should therefore be approved by the City Planning Commission (the Commission or CPC).
The application would allow for a more diverse range of tenant types to lease space in the Starrett-Lehigh and Terminal Warehouse buildings and replace the limited and outdated allowable uses. These outdated uses, such as manufacturing uses prevalent in the 20th century, do not contribute to making the area more dynamic nor cater to the needs of the growing local community as it pertains to required goods and services. The solution the land use application proposes will allow for a broader array of uses that will directly contribute to the mixed-use character of the neighborhood. Additionally, the two blocks comprising the project area importantly link the residential, commercial and viable industrial use nodes in the neighborhood and can serve as an important transition space. Therefore, the creation of a pedestrian connection through these blocks between West Chelsea, Hudson Yards, and Hudson River Park would enhance the character of the neighborhood, by allowing for greater circulation continuity among its mixed uses.
Last year, it was unanimously determined[ii] by the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the adaptive reuse and design of this project is appropriate and worthy. It is now the duty of this commission to determine if the application aligns with the goals of the Special West Chelsea Historic District and those of the CPC. This is clearly true as revealed by the project’s contributions to the area’s dynamic nature and the way in which the bulk and proposed uses’ enhance the neighborhood’s character. Additionally, it supports the goals of the Commission to include in its planning efforts adequate space and industry for the future development of the City, by allowing for uses that meet the contemporary needs of both local residents and visitors, which also has the added benefit of aiding in the City’s post-pandemic economic recovery.