Friday, April 18, 2014

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Council Zoning Committee Approves Chelsea Market Expansion

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The City Council Zoning subcommittee approved Thursday a plan to expand Chelsea Market, which would add 290,000-square-feet of office space to the former Nabisco factory located next to the High Line in Manhattan. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

As far as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is concerned, the final deal she negotiated with the owner of the Chelsea Market is a win for the community that she represents. But some local residents do not see it that way.

"This is an outright betrayal by Chris Quinn of her community, someone that I used to work with," said Michael McKee, a Chelsea resident. "Where is that Chris Quinn? Who is she now?"

Jamestown Properties, the owner of Chelsea Market, where NY1's newsroom is located, wants to add about 290,000 square feet of office space to the building. They say the new space will allow media and technology companies to grow. They say they hope to begin construction on the addition in 2015.

That hope moved one step closer to reality on Thursday, when the project cleared a major hurdle. The City Council's Land Use Committee endorsed the plan. The vote occurred after the Speaker signed off on the deal.

"It's been something that has struck a balance between community interests and the technology and media and citywide job creation initiative," said Michael Phillips of Jamestown Properties.

Quinn did manage to get some new concessions for the neighborhood. The building owner promised to preserve the existing facade and reserve three-quarters of the first-floor shopping concourse for food-related vendors. The Speaker said in a statement that the council would be preserving the "iconic neighborhood treasure that is the Chelsea Market."

"It was a project nobody wanted, but the idea was to get the most benefit for the community," said Joe Restuccia, local community board member. "And what we really got is to save Chelsea Market."

Some have privately questioned whether the Speaker would have approved the expansion if she had to run for re-election in Chelsea next year. Instead, term limits are forcing her out of the council seat, and she is laying the groundwork for a likely run for mayor.

The full City Council is expected to approve the expansion at its meeting on Tuesday.

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