City Council OKs plan for Chelsea Market development

November 13, 2012 04:00PM

The City Council voted unanimously today to approve the rezoning of Chelsea Market, paving the way for developer Jamestown Properties to build a nine-story office tower atop the converted cookie factory.

Over the course of the approval process, Jamestown had made several concessions to city planning officials and opponents of the project, nixing a plan to build a hotel and earmarking money for affordable housing.

The modified proposal sets aside 75 percent of the market’s ground floor retail space for food-related businesses and also ensures the creation of 150 units of affordable housing at Chelsea’s Robert Fulton Houses. Additionally, Jamestown is giving $12 million to Friends of the High Line, the non-profit responsible for the upkeep of the elevated park, as part of a city development program.

However, the proposal faced opposition from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and other community groups on the grounds that it would destroy a historic structure and increase traffic in the area. The building, once home to Nabisco’s headquarters, is the birthplace of the Oreo cookie.

“It’s deeply disappointing that they are allowing a beloved New York City landmark to be disfigured and one of the city’s most congested neighborhoods to be further overdeveloped,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society in a statement.

The City Council’s land use subcommittee had voted on Oct. 25 to approve the modified proposal, but the full vote was delayed by two weeks due to Hurricane Sandy and last week’s blizzard.

Among the Council members who endorsed the plan was Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents the neighborhood, although she had remained quiet on the issue until the subcommittee vote. Quinn’s upcoming campaign for Mayor was frequently cited as the reason for her silence.—Leigh Kamping-Carder