Avalon West Chelsea start delayed

Groundbreaking for the approximately 700-unit rental complex Avalon
West Chelsea planned for the West Side has been pushed back for as long
as a year, the developer said.

The massive project by national rental builder and manager Avalon Bay
Communities was expected to break ground in the first quarter of 2009
but is not expected to begin before the third quarter of 2009 or early
2010, said Fred Harris, senior vice president for development in
Avalon’s New York office.

He claimed the delay was not due to the weak economy, but rather to common construction scheduling shifts.

“We expect to be in the building permit process by the middle of this year,” Harris said.

Avalon West Chelsea is being built on an L-shaped site east of 11th Avenue between 28th and 29th streets that includes 575-feet of frontage on 28th Street. The site’s three parcels, 282-298 11th Avenue and 517-545 West 28th Street, are controlled by a 99-year, $173 million lease signed in November 2007 with privately-held Valeray Real Estate. Several vacant buildings are located on the parcels, which were mostly used as parking lots.
The project, which is planned to allocate 20 percent of the units for affordable housing, was recently listed as one of the few developments near the High Line where construction was about to begin. 

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While planning for the site moves forward, the developer is considering reopening the site for parking to help pay the annual three-site rent of $5 to $10 million, Harris said.

Despite the delay, the developer, who operates three rental buildings in Manhattan and two rental buildings in Long Island City and scores more nationwide, continues the process toward construction.

On January 16 Avalon bought its fifth batch of development rights from nearby properties needed for Avalon West Chelsea. The developer has secured at least 95,970 square feet of air rights, for prices ranging from $227 per square foot to $250 per square foot, according to The Real Deal’s review of city property records. An exception was a parcel of development rights totaling 6,155 square feet, which Avalon purchased for $400 per foot in August 2008.

Meanwhile, Avalon Bay continues to pursue other deals. In December, it proposed to Community Board 4 that it wanted to build a 44-story tower at 57th Street and 11th Avenue.