Imperfect storm: Sandy stymies Chelsea Market City Council vote

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | What should have been an impressive sprint to cap off a grueling marathon took an unprecedented Act of God turn — as complications arising from nature’s fury extended the City Council’s deadline for casting its definitive vote on the matter of Chelsea Market expansion.

The plan by Jamestown Properties — to add office space atop the iconic complex’s Ninth and Tenth Avenue sides — has pitted a sizable coalition of firmly entrenched anti-sprawl preservationists against Jamestown, market concourse merchants and local residents who see the project as an opportunity for much-needed jobs and Affordable Housing.

When last week began, it looked as if the Jamestown Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application was headed for a council thumbs up or thumbs down, reversible only by a seldom-invoked mayoral override.

After a long and contentious trip spent snaking its way from Community Board 4 to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to the City Planning Commission, October 23’s public testimony before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises — and October 25’s meeting of the Land Use Committee — were swift preludes to the City Council’s widely anticipated ULURP endgame vote. Due by no later than November 2, Hurricane Sandy has delayed that vote (which is expected to take place next week).


The disconnect between expansion advocates and opponents was evident minutes before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises convened to hear testimony from Jamestown, elected officials (Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Assemblymember Deborah Glick) and pro/con members of the public.

A press conference organized by Jamestown, which took place on the steps of City Hall, featured pro-business comments from union members (Local 7), Chelsea Market concourse merchants and the Building and Construction Trades Council.

Inside, the seating arrangements for the crowd of nearly 100 (half of whom ended up testifying via two-minute slots) resembled that of a divisive wedding party — with the pro-expansion contingent (bride’s side on the left, with purple and red shirts) separated from the preservationists (groom’s side on the right, holding yellow “Save Chelsea Market” signs).

For detailed information on the public testimony heard by the subcommittee (including the unabridged text of many who spoke), visit For pro/con Talking Points analyzing the marrow of what the City Council will vote on, see pages 4, 5 and 6.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *