West 17th Street to West 20th Street from the High Line

Walking around West Chelsea is like gazing at the Milky Way: what you see now is really looking at the past, the future is what’s happening now. This is important to keep in mind if you have a longer-term lease because five years into your lease, West Chelsea will likely look much different than when you signed. Prices will definitely be different. The map below is the southern section of a larger map drawn around the time the West Chelsea Special District was created in 2005. I like this map because it’s a map of the future of West Chelsea, foretold years before any construction was begun or ground was broken. It shows buildings and development sites that were still years away, and one of the most densely developed areas shown back then is the area south of West 20th Street, looking nothing like it looks now. Take a look at the future…




The black alphabetical squares show sites that are currently built but weren’t yet started when this map was drawn. The black numerical circles show sites that haven’t broken ground yet but have been announced in the industry press recently, or they were shown in 2005 as something other than what stands there now and will likely be built, if the current status quo holds. This group of black circles is what’s interesting. The following key examines these projects, looking first at what’s already built:


[A] – The Ateliers Jean Nouvel Tower at 100 11th Avenue, 72 hyper-luxury condos completed in 2009. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is in the ground floor retail space. Directly across the street is Frank Gehry’s IAC Building. completed in 2007.

[B] – Annabelle Selldorf’s West Chelsea En Suite Sky Garage at 200 11th Avenue, another 19 stories of luxury condos, with condo-side parking. Units were ready to be occupied in 2009.

[C] – 500 West 23rd Street Ten 23, the building with CVS at the base (first pharmacy for this booming residential neighborhood) started in 2006 but not completed until 2012, and diagonally from it just west of the High Line, Neil Denari’s HL23, more luxury condos finished in 2011.

[D] –  (L-shaped building) Cary Tamarkin’s 458 West 18th Street, 22 duplex condo units completed in 2010.


What’s going on:


01(1)558 West 23rd Street, not yet built, no word on what it will be. It’s owned by U-Haul of Texas, and has all of it’s air rights in tact. It’s zoned for a tower as shown, and could add another 20 stories give or take of luxury residential. Stay tuned for this.

Across the street at 559 West 23rd Street, something is planned for that white hotel that stands on the northwest corner. Marcus Dochantschi showed me a fantastic model of a tower for that and the two lots north of it. At 552 West 24th Street, Art Residences has broken ground, read about it here. Just south of it is a tiny 2500 SF lot, squeezed next to 555 West 23rd that may be included in the corner development south of En Suite Sky Garage, [B].


02(2)554 and 551 West 21st Street, both projects discussed elsewhere in feetsquare, here and here, and also here. Sherwood Equities was involved in the sale of 547 West 21st Street next door.




03(3)145 Tenth Avenue, a Sherwood Equities project. On the map, the light yellow area is zoned with height restrictions so that West Chelsea transitions into the landmarked 19th-century homes and the seminary to the east (originally developed by Clement Clarke Moore of “The Night Before Christmas” fame, who owned this farm land). As an aside, this was once an area of small rolling hills that were leveled off as part of the Commissioners Plan of 1811 and shoved into the Hudson, creating the low-lying area to the west. This is why this area south of 23rd Street flooded so disastrously during Sandy, worse than areas north. It’s very clear on the flood-zone map.

I saw several very creative models of possible structures for this site at Sherwood’s offices that maximize this development despite the restrictions on building height. You can read more about it here.

508W20_proposed_sm_02_2013They also bought the building at 508 West 20th Street (shown at right), wedged between the High Line and The Jehovah’s Witnesses Temple, for it’s air rights which Sherwood apparently sold off at $500/SF, keeping just enough to rebuild the site. The original building – the “Sol Lewitt Building” AKA The Bunker – has since been demolished. A one story, column-free, 3,750 SF building with 16′ ceilings and a roof deck level with the High Line is in progress that Sherwood wants to rent for $1,000,000 per year to a restaurant or gallery. That’s $267/SF, a new high if they can get it. Good luck with that.


04(4) – This pair of buildings straddling the High Line will loom like a gateway to pedestrians walking north. With 100,000 SF – 10,000 SF of retail and 90,000 SF of residential – planned for 501 to 511 West 19th Street, this development will likely compliment 458 West 18th [D] down the street in design. Permits for construction were pulled in January 2013 and Kamco moved out February 1, consolidating into the warehouse under the HL at 507 West 21st Street. The developer is HFZ Capital Group (Ziel Feldman).


05(5) – The pink building on the south side of West 20th Street looks like the 4-story garage at 520-524 West 20th Street, where Zieher-Smith and Bartolami are located, although it looks considerably taller here. This color coding indicates maximum allowed building height within each of these subareas and the conditions. The pink indicates the max height is 120′, among other things. The yellow building to the west is the now-defunct women’s prison, also open to development but with fewer height restrictions, depending upon the air rights. What is noticeably missing is the Anton Kern Gallery space, owned by one of the most active developers in WCH.


06(6)511 West 18th Street, new home of the 24,700 SF Hauser & Wirth Gallery, is now a 2-story building, but here on the map, it is shown built high. This is a logical use for the site, once owned by Menlon Trucking. There are no plans for development as of now, but you can bet that there’s a Demo Clause in their lease if this map is correct. A Demo Clause is a paragraph in a lease that allows the owner to cancel the lease under certain circumstances and with certain conditions, usually with the intention to demolish existing structures and develop the site, or convert to condos. It’s a feature of most leases for older, existing buildings discussed here, especially if they fall outside of the two M1-5 areas discussed here. I predict that by 2018, the old Roxy cum H&W building here will be a construction site. This is shown on the map but is now the parking lot on the extreme right of the picture at the start of this article.

What is missing from the map is the building directly behind it to the north, 520 West 19th Street, completed in 2008. This luxury residential building is home to Chambers Fine Art and Lombard-Freid, and was also designed by Annabelle Selldorf. It doesn’t appear that the air rights were collected from 511 West 18th to build 520 West 19th, with a FAR of 6.28, which would match the size of that new building. So it’s unknown whether or not Hauser & Wirth is in it for the long haul.


07(7) – Currently occupied by a parking lot owned by Edison Parking, visible on the extreme left of the top picture,  that was once leased to the DEA. The planning board allowed for a 869-unit residential complex on the entire block bounded by 17th and 18th streets and 10th and 12th Avenues , with 718 underground parking spaces. No building is currently planned for it, but from the buildings shown on the map, we can surmise it will be a whopper, book-ending West Chelsea on the south, with Ohm on West 30th, 282 11th Avenue on West 28th and everything else planned up there, on the north.

What’s interesting in the full-text of the letter to Amanda Burden, Chair of the Planning Commission from J. Lee Compton, Chair of the Manhattan Community Board No. 4, is the statement: “Many businesses in the neighborhood have been served by the parking that will be lost, in particular the art galleries that it is the explicit goal of the City and the Community Board to support.”

The art galleries that it is the explicit goal of the City… to support. This is further evidence that, with a little bit of involvement and activism by galleries, West Chelsea can remain a premier and permanent gallery district, at least for several more decades.

Read the entire zoning board document here or a summary blip about it here.


08(8) – This block, well, who knows yet. You get the point.





Most of the development on this end of the West Chelsea Special District gets it’s development bonuses from contributions to the High Line Improvement Fund. The development on the northern end, above 28th, benefit from the Inclusionary Housing Bonus, which rewards buildings with 10% to 30% of the development going to low- to moderate-income units. A lot is happening, or will soon.

Here’s how it looks on a plat map:


Contact Earl if you want to know more.