dynamic city / champagne in a cookie building
Two pieces in Sunday’s NY Times got me thinking about how dynamic
Here’s the first one.
The business section ran an article about the new HQ of Moet Hennessy, on the second floor of a 1914 building that used to house the National Biscuit Company (better known as Nabisco) between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues (address is 85 Tenth Av, from 15th to 16th Streets). Anyone who has driven down
Like many such buildings in this far west corridor, it has almost certainly been significantly under-utilized of late. Back when the elevated
But the container cargo ships moved the commercial shipping hub across the river to New Jersey (the mob-controlled longshoreman and stevedoring unions didn’t help) in the 1950s and 1960s and the general decline of the city in the 1960s and 1970s left this far west side of Manhattan a bleak stretch between the genteel West Village and Chelsea.
Then the neighborhood just to the south, across
Which made it easier for creeping change to creep across
The Times article describes this building as “at the edge” of the Meatpacking District (though I would quibble that this District does not cross 14th Street; this should be part of Chelsea) and describes the nearby neighbors as including: Del Posto, CraftSteak and Morimoto restaurants; the Gansevoort Hotel; Soho House, a private club; and the Food Network (nearly all of which are above 14th Street). For Moet Hennessy, this location is ideal because it allows the sales and marketing people for their champagne, spirits and cognac brands to walk to clients.
But it is the unidentified near neighbors that make this area dynamic: mid-block small-scale apartment buildings just to the east on up to 22nd Street, the venerable General Theological Seminary (whose bell tower charms passersby both visibly and aurally) between Ninth and Tenth at 20th and 21st Streets, the Maritime Hotel (in a building that housed Covenant House, a social services agency, most recently but whose porthole windows hint at its history as a longshoreman’s union headquarters) and the buildings managed by the NYC Housing Authority.
The fragile mix of low and moderate income housing in the corridor above
The ongoing attempt by the Seminary to renovate and to raise money by building a tower have focused attention on the scale of this neighborhood, and its mix of low-income residents, "middle-class" (or its Manhattan equivalents) and high-end gentrifiers. According to The Villager, the Seminary and its business partners have scaled back to a 13 story condominium tower, which is still too tall to many residents: That fight in this dynamic neighborhood continues.
The Villager has run a series of articles about the Seminary plans, as well as this one “Chelsea 2025”, a brainstorming session about changes in