WEST CHELSEA FIGHTS TO HOLD ONTO ITS ART IDENTITY
By Ali Ebrahimi
Once a lowly warehouse and nightclub district, the now incredibly desirable West Chelsea (aka West Chelsea gallery district) seems to be in question in terms of its future…but it won’t go down without a fight.
This area has quickly become one of the most in-demand (and pricey) living destinations in New York City, which poses a threat to the very galleries and art scene that made it so popular. Current residents and buyers looking in the neighborhood are concerned about what its direction may hold if the galleries move on.
It was not until relatively recently that West Chelsea became synonymous with the art world. New York’s galleries have been down a long and winding path that has matched the ebb and flow of the growth of the city itself.
As new condos pop up and more galleries close (or relocate elsewhere in the city), there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for this community in flux as it tries to figure out its identity.
Signs of Promise
In a neighborhood that’s fast loosing its art identity in place of new luxury condo developments, Related Companies, one of the city’s largest and leading real estate developers, has infused a breath of fresh air. The developer has announced plans to create 15 new art galleries in what they say is an attempt to “expand and further enhance the West Chelsea art district.” This is a smart move by Related, as they are heavily invested in the West Chelsea area with several current and upcoming projects, and only stand to gain from its continued success. With many galleries leaving due to rent increases, it makes sense for Related to do what they can to keep others here while also courting new ones.
Related Companies plans to create 15 galleries in the West Chelsea gallery district, including ‘High Line Nine,’ a collection of nine turn-key amenitized galleries.
Related’s 15 new gallery spaces will be located in and around their new ultra-luxury condo at 520 West 28th Street, the late Zaha Hadid‘s curvaceous steel and glass structure next to the High Line. Nine of these galleries, aptly named ‘High Line Nine,’ will be positioned under the section of the High Line spanning from West 27th to West 28th Street. Paul Kasmin Gallery, a major art world player with three gallery spaces already in the immediate area, is acting as the anchor gallery, and has signed a lease deal with Related (for an undisclosed amount). They also plan to open a new 5000 square-foot gallery next to the condo.
Could this attempt to preserve the “art-tegrity” of West Chelsea pave the way for other developers to follow suit and set a new standard for other projects in the area? As a proud resident of West Chelsea and an art lover myself, I certainly hope so!