The High Line Park, west Chelsea’s former elevated rail line, is now being converted into an almost two-mile, seven-square-acre, 30-feet-high park It’s a part of Manhattan’s past that is quickly becoming a hot topic of the 21st century.
“You have the High Line, an amazing old piece of industrial infrastructure being joined by a beautiful contemporary building by Frank Gehry or Jean Nouvel,” said Joshua David of the Friends of the High Line.
The park's first segment, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, is scheduled to open early this winter.
The name "High Line” also refers to the area’s developing neighborhood, featuring a new skyline of retail spaces, commercial buildings, restaurants and condos.
David says after attending a community board meeting in 1999, he joined fellow West Chelsea resident to take action and establish the group Friends of the High Line.
“At the time, nobody was trying to preserve the structure,” said David. “We thought it was a fantastic opportunity for New York City to create something amazing.”
Prior to 1930, the High Line was an industrial railroad running on a rust-brown trestle just west of 10th Avenue. Because of the hazards it posed to those on the street, the city decided to raise the railway above the street level.
The elevated railroad thrived until 1980, when it was shut down due to decreased use and a slump in area business.
Now the developing park is helping western Manhattan to boom. According to the office of the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, West Chelsea is undergoing $900 million of new real estate development, including some 40 structures, since it was rezoned for the project in 2005.
The project has been a labor of love involving local politicians, advocacy groups and area residents.
According to the Real Estate Board of New York, the price per square foot of real estate in West Chelsea went up 30 percent between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2007. That number is expected to increase, and those investing in the area can expect even greater returns in the future.