Neighborhood groups launch petition against Chelsea Market expansion

Dialogue slated to continue at public hearing Thursday evening
By David Jones | February 20, 2012 06:30PM

A coalition of neighborhood preservationists and other community groups are stepping up the fight against a plan to expand the Chelsea Market retail and office complex with a petition.

Jamestown Properties, the owners of Chelsea Market, have proposed adding a hotel and separate nine-story office tower on top of the existing land marked building at 75 Ninth Avenue, one of the largest and most successful retail and commercial complexes in New York.

The firm commissioned a study in November 2011, which claimed the proposed expansion would result in more than $1.6 billion in economic benefits to the city. But opponents of the plan say the expansion would ruin the existing property and create additional problems for a neighborhood that is already facing excessive development.

“These two structures they want to build on top of them would really hurt the integrity of the buildings,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “There’s also a fear that we’re seeing the neighborhood really, really overdeveloped.”

Late last week, the organization launched an online petition to collect signatures from residents opposed to the expansion.

In 2011, Jamestown bought out its partners at Chelsea Market to take control of the property, which has 1.2 million square feet of office and retail space, and is home to companies including Google and the Food Network.

In 2011, Jamestown proposed building an 11-story glass cube, measuring 240,000 square feet, on top of the 10th Avenue side of the existing complex, as well as a 90,000-square-foot Hotel On The Ninth Avenue side of the property.

Plans for the commercial expansion were scaled back after opposition from local community groups, who complained that the glass structure was out of character with the existing property.

Community Board 4 held a meeting on the expansion in late January, and another public hearing is scheduled for Thursday evening at the Fulton Auditorium, at 119 9th Avenue and 17th Street, in which further discussion will be held on the proposed expansion.

The project must be approved by the city Department of Planning and the City Council before Jamestown is allowed to move forward with the expansion.

A spokesperson for Jamestown was not immediately available for comment.