Supporters and opponents of Chelsea Market's plan to expand its building packed a City Council hearing on the proposal Tuesday but the City Councilwoman who represents the Chelsea Market, Speaker Christine Quinn, was nowhere to be seen. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The Chelsea Market is a bustling commercial hub, with food vendors on the ground floor and media and technology companies, including NY1, occupying the floors above.
The building owner is hoping to expand, though, by adding about 290,000 square feet of office space. But first, it needs approval from the City Council.
"I think what it means to the neighborhood is a continued commitment to technology and media," said Michael Phillips, the chief operating officer of Jamestown Properties.
Jamestown Properties, which owns the building, says the expansion would allow those industries to grow in Chelsea, creating more than 1,200 new office jobs. The owner also says it would hire 600 union workers to construct the new space. It also promises to inject more than $15 million into a fund to improve the High Line.
"This is a really important project for the High Line," said Joshua David of Friends of the High Line. "I think there is room for future growth over in this part of New York City."
However, some local residents who attended a City Council hearing on the expansion plan Tuesday fear it will overwhelm the neighborhood, a neighborhood that is already grappling with a significant influx of new visitors and residents.
"This is a private developer who is asking for us to change the law in the city of New York so they can make more money," said Andy Humm, a Chelsea resident. "That's not why you change the zoning law. Because what you are giving up is light and space and stuff that we value."
A few neighbors were also upset that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes Chelsea Market, did not attend the hearing.
"I think it's disrespectful," said Michael McKee, a Chelsea resident. "It's disrespectful to the community."
Quinn is widely expected to run for mayor next year and she holds a tremendous amount of influence over the project. So far, she has not taken a public position on it. An aide to the Speaker noted that she does not typically attend hearings like this.
As for the negotiations, they are still underway but should be wrapping up soon. The project is expected to go before the full City Council for a vote this coming Tuesday.