If we had to nominate Manhattan’s most athletic neighborhood, Chelsea would win in every category, because it hosts the largest sports complex in the city: Chelsea Piers. The complex includes three grandiose piers and a marina for mooring private boats, and contains a huge skating rink (equally suitable for figure skating and hockey), basketball courts, soccer fields, multi-story golf driving ranges, batting cages, dance studios, a wall for rock climbing and a huge gymnastics hall.
The restaurants at Chelsea Piers include Abigail Kirsch Catering and Sunset Terrace on Pier 61.
Many Chelsea condominiums are within a short walking distance from the Piers, so living here is, in a way, comparable to living across the street from Central Park. Chelsea Piers serve as “external amenities” to a number of local buildings that do not include a gym but instead offer Chelsea Piers membership to all tenants.
Like most of the neighborhoods in Manhattan, Chelsea has undergone considerable change over the last ten-fifteen years, turning from an offices-only area into residential.
Chelsea is a home of some mouthwatering restaurants. Just within Chelsey Market alone there are Atelier Robuchon, Momofuku Nishi, Gramercy Tavern, and dozens of others! It’s also the location of the major art galleries: Marlboro Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner – and over two hundred others!
On the other hand, some of the city’s poorest subsidized-living projects are also in Chelsea. Here you can see the rich and the poor staring at each other (with mutual disdain) from two sides of the same street.
Near the turn of the millennium, a nonprofit organization Friends of High Line, spearheaded by neighborhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond and supported by multibillionaire and then-mayor Michael Bloomberg, came up with the initiative to create a unique park out of the old elevated railway line, stretching from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea all the way up to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Center. Once completed, the park garnered massive praise and became one of the most original and beloved places of recreation for New Yorkers and tourists alike. Here you can walk among 120 types of green plants, enjoy the views of the city and the Hudson, breathe fresh air, admire artworks sponsored by the city, listen to music played by street musicians, watch theatrical performances, or sit on a wooden bench and read a book.
Along the High Line Park, and all the way to 42nd street, Michael Bloomberg ordered re-zoning – and the new real estate development projects sprung to life swiftly thereafter.
One of these buildings is Sky Garage – a condominium at 200 11th avenue, designed by Young Woo & Associates. Nicole Kidman and her current husband Keith Urban bought a condo in that building, and so did fashion designer Domenico Dolce (of Dolce & Gabbana fame). Sky Garage is named after its unique “paparazzi-proof” feature: a property owner can drive their tinted-glass car into a special elevator and be lifted all the way to their apartment, equipped with in-suite garage. A super-advanced transformable penthouse in this building – featuring, in addition to the garage, two massive outdoor terraces with 360-degree view and a secret stairway to a lower-level pad – is on the market at the reduced price of $20 (million).
At 551 West 21st Street we have a storm-ready building designed by Norman Foster (the winner of 1999 Pritzker Prize): 44 condominiums on 19 floors, with prices for regular apartments ranging from $5.75 million to $17 million, and three penthouses, selling for $35+ million. The topmost penthouse has its own private rooftop swimming pool.
Another highlight of Chelsea real estate is a masterpiece residential building at 100 11th Avenue, developed by Craig Wood and Curtis Bashaw, and designed by the great Jean Nouvel (winner of 2008 Pritzker Prize, among several other ultra-prestigious architectural awards). This 23-story tower, featuring a technologically advanced “curtain wall system” is also sometimes referred to as “Vision Machine” (the term coined by its architect) and includes 72 residential units and such amenities as a spa, gym, swimming pool – and a semi-enclosed atrium called “The Loggia”, in which fully-grown trees that appear to float in mid-air. That building – one of the best recently developed residential properties, in my opinion – went $50-plus million over budget, and was completed two years behind schedule – but nobody regretted that too much, because it sold exceptionally well.
Right across the street there’s another modern classic, the IAC Building, developed by Georgetown Company, and designed by already mentioned Frank Gehry, sometimes referred to as “the most important architect of our age” (by the way, he’s the winner of 1989 Pritzker Prize and a few dozen more top architectural awards – this is getting ridiculous). Tiny by Manhattan standards (only 10 stories high), IAC Building had been praised as one of the most attractive office building in the world, both outside and inside.
These two buildings, 100 11th Avenue and IAC Building – standing next to each other along the West Side Highway – probably should have been outlawed: their combined beauty is too much of a distraction for passing motorists.
And is if that’s not enough, a third spectacular architectural marvel is in development alongside these two. Known as “The Eleventh”, and located across the street from the IAC building at 76 11th avenue, this 800,000 square feet two-tower megaproject, designed with genius-level fearlessness by Danish rebel wunderkind Bjarke Ingels (who hadn’t won the Pritzker Prize yet, but will win it within the next couple of years – mark my words), and developed by NFZ Capital, is scheduled to be completed in 2019. NFZ’s purchase of the site for this construction from Edison Properties (of Manhattan Mini Storage fame) for $870 million was the largest single land deal of 2015.
One of the towers will host a hotel (operated by Bangkok-based Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas) and the second will be fully residential, consisting of 240 units, whose prices currently begin at $4 million. Once completed, The Eleventh will be seen in all its glory from the West Side Highway and from the High Line Park, and will make Chelsea even more beautiful – and a lot more profitable for real estate investors!