Chelsea’s art-mecca days may be behind it

TRD New York /
Aug.August 28, 2015 08:00 AM

Gallery owners in Chelsea are feeling the pinch of higher rents caused by flowering development around the High Line. Many have left, headed for fresher, cheaper digs in places like the Lower East Side, and the rest are looking at the door.

Of the seven small- and mid-size galleries that made up the core of Chelsea’s art scene, five have left. Leases will soon be up on the two remaining, and their owners told Bloomberg they too are likely on their way out.

“Chelsea feels more blue-chip and less an area where you come to discover new artists,” said Michael Gillespie, owner of Foxy Production at 623 West 27th Street.

Average rents in the neighborhood stand “in that $120-$150 per square foot range,” according to Stuart Siegel of CBRE, up from $65 to $90 per square foot as recently as 2008.

Just like in Soho, galleries are the victims of their own success,” Siegel told Bloomberg, “The galleries put Chelsea on the map. Then the world followed them.”

The draw of the High Line and the high-end development surrounding have fueled the price surge too.

“It’s all real estate-driven,” said Andrew Edlin of the Andrew Edlin Gllery at 134 10th Avenue. “I love my space in Chelsea but my space will be destroyed for luxury condos. I didn’t want to retreat to the upper floor in Chelsea.”

Many curator-entrepreneurs are looking to new horizons. The Lower East Side Business Improvement district is how home to, up from 63 in 2010, Katie Archer, the district’s business services manager, told Bloomberg.

Larger, higher-end gallariests though, are holding on, replying on the neighborhoods cache and its new workers’, residents’ and visitors’ wealth.

Eli Klein, who co-owns the Klein Sun Gallery at 525 West 22nd Street, which specializes in Chinese contemporary art, said, “In China, they recognize it as the center of the art world. Chelsea is a brand to them.”

Luxury Listings NYC crunched the numbers and found that the Upper East Side has the highest concentration of art galleries in the city. [Bloomberg]Ariel Stulberg

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