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.
Disney World on the Hudson