Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Avalon has Landed

The Avalon West Chelsea has landed, and Jesus H. Christ is it big.

Avalon on W. 28th

According to the website, it consists of two buildings--one at a whopping 31 stories and the other at 13. One building is called Avalon West Chelsea and the other, capitalizing on the luxury park that spawned it, is called "AVA High Line."

We knew that 60,000 square feet, with 710 units and a parking garage for over 140 cars, was big, but until you see it live, you just cannot imagine. This one's a block buster--it takes up nearly the entire block between 28th and 29th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues. With no low setbacks, it's like a dark planet sucking light out of the sky.

From the Eagle's roof deck

We've been following developments on this block of West 28th for awhile. Someone must have pushed the light-speed button, because it's all happening. The little block has now been plunged into darkness. Walking on the block, which used to be open and bright, it feels like someone just bricked you inside a sarcophagus.

Right across the street, the gay leather Eagle Bar has its roof deck, soon to be invaded by neighbors too close for comfort. 

Because of all this construction, in part, Folsom Street East was canceled this year. 

Avalon from High Line

And it's not just the Avalon. Almost everything has been pushed out and demolished, thanks to the High Line and Bloomberg's luxury rezoning.

High Line Part 2 opened just two years ago, in June 2011, while Folsom went on below. Avalon West Chelsea broke ground across from the Eagle and the bar was raided by the NYPD, citing false noise complaints. In December 2011, one block over on 29th, Brownfeld Auto lost their business after a century here. It has been demolished.

In April 2012, demolition began on a former nightclub building on W. 28th, preparing for another massive tower to come. In June 2012, condo residents on the block began complaining about Folsom East, petitioning to have the fair removed. That year, for the first time and from the High Line, Christian right-wingers held protest signs telling the fairgoers they were sinners. Folsom East is unlikely to return to this block.

In January 2013, the Central Iron and Metal scrapyard, here since 1927, sold. It has now closed, part of the Great Die-Off of working class Chelsea, thanks again to the High Line. On my recent visit, I found two more blue-collar, auto-related businesses have gone.

Edge Auto Rental has shuttered, with a sign saying they've moved to Greenpoint.

And a mechanic's garage, in a prime spot right under the High Line, has closed up and moved to West 29th (how long will that last?)

This is all on one city block.

The area all around these former businesses has been demolished and cleared for new building. This is what hypergentrification looks like. Fed and nurtured by the city government, planned and strategized, it comes in fast and it comes in big. It wipes out everything in its path. Its appetite for destruction is boundless.

Where there was light and air, there will be darkness, brick, and glass. The High Line park is being suffocated, devoured by the beast it helped to create.

Behind Avalon, with Mr. Brownfeld's former site in rear

On their website, Avalon proudly calls itself "A Catalyst in Changing Neighborhoods," radically altering "neighborhoods that were 'up and coming,' but not yet 'arrived.'" Of Avalon West Chelsea, they say the building is contributing to "the revitalization of a neglected area." This area was not neglected. It was filled with thriving businesses and culture, just not the sort Bloomberg wants in his luxury city.

Well, here's a plus. A building of this magnitude is required to offer affordable housing, and 20% of Avalon's apartments fall under that rule. They're offering a percentage of those to "performing artists," and so they can claim that they're "ensuring the continued diversity of the Chelsea district." Here's a listing of those apartments.

Just think, if you lived here, you could have these people as your neighbors--instead of all the dirty queers, perverts, and working-class schlubs who long made this home.

See Also:
Disney World on the Hudson


Tim said...

Interesting. I am glad you are writing about this. I recently had a talk with someone at The Trust For Public Land who are actively designing the Queensway and The Bloomingdale Trail in Chicago. We talked about The Highline (I did not "wax poetic" about what The MPD used to be... that ship sailed) but I did address the fact that The Highline was intended for an "Open Space" and asked how they reconciled the fact that it has now become "The Highline Alley". He had no answer.
Tim Schreier
New York, NY

ShatteredMonocle said...

Well they seem like nice neighbors, with whom to spend a quiet evening enjoying some white wine and potato chips.

Ken Mac said...

The mystery hand taking a fry is disturbing! but not as disturbing as their plastic people smiles..

dash said...

Check out the Avalon's website- they're in 11 states plus D.C. A few years ago I was browsing Craigslist for an apartment in Brooklyn and found that the Avalon had flooded Craigslist with ads which violated the site's terms. I flagged the hell out of them.

I can't help but wonder- who are all these people that are going to be moving into these tens of thousands of high-priced units that are coming on the market in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens?

Michael Simmons said...

Servile reasonableness is as much the enemy as the actively predatory real estate vultures. Some form of zero tolerance for yunnies as well as their zillionaire enablers is called for. As the Zapatistas say -- BASTA!

Space Pope said...

The very people in that last pic look very akin to the types of people I used to have fun 'ruining' for grins.

laura r. said...

who will live there? the new tenents are young carreer people, young couples w/a child. college & grad students whose family pay the rent. gay men who want a parking place, & to near other gays & bistros. some older retired folks who want a place in the city. 20% of the tenents are middle income, the city pays the landlord the rest of the market rent. its an ugly building, thats for sure. thats my take.

Anonymous said...

I live in the stranded double tenement shown in two of the pics, at 508 W. 29th. Trust me, this has been a nitemare. In less than 3 years, my entire neighborhood has been leveled to make way for yuppie condos and tourists on the High Line. All sunlight is now blocked into my apt by these massive projects. And more are coming. The speed at which this neighborhood has been ruined by ugly cheap condo projects is truly shocking.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon, i would love to talk to you about life in the stranded tenement. can you email me?


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people get so upset when these companies come into town. The area that was demolished was old, disgusting buildings that were ten times uglier and didn't have any purpose. How can you say that bringing this to the neighborhood is such a bad idea? Think about all of the economic perks to the local businesses (restaurants, bars, etc) that these businesses with reap due to the disposable income of these new residents. I don't get it.....I think seeing things like this being developed means that the neighborhood has a lot of demand and the current residents should be flattered by that. We shall see. West Chelsea is the new hot spot as it is away from the hustle and bussle yet it still has lots to do in the immediate area.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article and nice blog. The listing you put as the affordable housing is actually not this Avalon one though. You've listed the performing arts building; 529 W.29th, just nearby or maybe across the street. That one is being handled by Related Management. Cheers --
Anony Mouse

sinestra said...

10:24- They should be flattered that rich developers want the neighborhood for themselves and are kicking people out to take it over? Oh lawdy. Oh but they are spending money? As if the people who already lived here were a bunch of moochers. This was a thriving commercial/ residential area, not some barren desert. Wait until you're the one on the receiving end of this "attention". You may see it differently.