By JULIE BESONEN
November 30, 2016
Catherine Roggero-Lovisi and her husband, Dr. Bruno Lovisi, both in their 40s, lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Paris before settling in West Chelsea. In 2014, they rented a one-bedroom apartment in London Terrace Gardens and decided to buy in the area as they grew to love it.
“The neighborhood is very charming, not impersonal,” said Ms. Roggero-Lovisi, the general manager for Christian Louboutin Beauté, a beauty company.
Within five days of looking with a broker, Dr. Lovisi contacted his wife, who was in Paris on business, about a two-bedroom co-op in a brownstone on West 22nd Street west of Ninth Avenue. Was she willing to walk up four flights?
She was. “We snatched it,” she said. The couple paid $1.75 million and moved in last April. Ms. Roggero-Lovisi commutes to Midtown on the E train; her husband gets around on his Harley-Davidson.
On the same block as the Lovisis, Jim Brawders, 63, an associate broker for the Corcoran Group, lives with his husband, Rick Livingston, an interior designer, in a parlor-floor three-bedroom co-op that they bought in the early ‘90s for $645,000. West Chelsea was more of a night life destination back then, he said, and fairly desolate during the day. Clients he took there would reject it as “too far out in the hinterlands.”
A nearby apartment similar to his just sold for $3.37 million, he said. For condominiums bordering the High Line or facing the Hudson River, listings in the $10 million to $20 million range are not unusual. Projects from star architects like Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Annabelle Selldorf and Zaha Hadid have further transformed the formerly industrial landscape.
Marc Levin, a filmmaker in his mid-60s who has an office on West 26th Street and lives nearby, said rezoning in 2005 and the opening of the first section of the High Line in 2009 fueled the land rush. His recent HBO documentary, “Class Divide,” chronicles West Chelsea’s rapid gentrification through the eyes of children from housing projects and a private school across the street. “My film is a microcosm of what’s happening around our country, in London and Hong Kong, where real estate has become like a safety deposit box,” he said.
Corey Johnson, 34, a city councilman representing Chelsea as part of District 3, said redevelopment “has made the neighborhood much less affordable, and small businesses are falling by the wayside — the locksmith, the dry cleaner …”
He added, however, that “even with the challenges that Chelsea faces, it’s still a welcoming place and the epicenter of art, fashion and innovation.”
What You’ll Find
West Chelsea, by popular definition, runs from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River and from West 14th to West 30th Streets.
Tech and media workers from Google’s New York office, at 76 Ninth Avenue, and the Frank Gehry-designed IAC headquarters, at 555 West 18th Street, have added a youthful dynamic to the streets. Commercial tenants at the massive Starrett-Lehigh building, at 601 West 26th Street, include the architecture and design studio Diller Scofidio & Renfro and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Century-old brick-and-brownstone townhouses have been preserved on some blocks, mostly in the West 20s. The West Chelsea Historic District is tied to the neighborhood’s prestige as a manufacturing center, protecting 30 buildings erected from 1885 to 1930. The 1930s-era London Terrace Gardens — 10 adjoining rental buildings —and the complex’s four co-op buildings, London Terrace Towers, take up the blocks between Ninth and 10th Avenues and 23rd to 24th Streets.
Subsidized housing dominates several blocks, with Robert Fulton Houses between 16th and 19th Streets and Ninth and 10th Avenues. The New York City Housing Authority plans to add an 18-story mixed-income building to the complex on 18th Street, to be built by Artimus Construction. The Chelsea-Elliot Houses, another housing project, run from West 25th to 27th Streets, between Ninth and 10th Avenues.
What You’ll Pay
On Nov. 21, 132 area properties were listed for sale on The New York Times search engine, from a $625,000 studio co-op in London Terrace Towers to a five-bedroom penthouse facing the High Line for $50 million in a 39-unit condo designed by Zaha Hadid, scheduled for occupancy by spring.
The median sales price through the third quarter for a one-bedroom condo or co-op was nearly $1.14 million, a 14 percent increase from the same time last year, according to Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist at Terra Holdings. The median for a two-bedroom, at $2.95 million,was up 40 percent, and for a three-bedroom, at $8 million, up 34 percent, which Mr. Heym said was in large part because of the prices at 551 West 21st Street, a luxury condo designed by Foster & Partners. The median for townhouses was $7.35 million, down 3 percent from last year, he said.
Monthly rentals ranged from $2,500 to $4,000 for studios, $3,500 to $5,000 for one-bedrooms and $4,500 to $7,000 for two-bedrooms, according to Jordan Cooper, a partner of Cooper & Cooper Real Estate.
Tourists from around the globe thread along the High Line park, as well as through Chelsea Market, the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art and some 200 galleries, mostly west of 10th Avenue.
Local restaurants with strong followings include the Red Cat, Cookshop, Del Posto, Bottino and the Half King. An enduring center for the arts and live performance is the Kitchen, at 512 West 19th Street.
The sports complex Chelsea Piers has golf, swimming, ice hockey and tennis, among other pursuits. Pier 63 and Pier 64 offer outdoor recreation and relaxation.
Public School 33 Chelsea Prep, 281 Ninth Avenue, serves about 620 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5. According to the city’s 2015-2016 School Quality Snapshot, 64 percent met state standards in English, versus 39 percent citywide; 68 percent did so in math, versus 40 percent.
City Knoll Middle School, 425 West 33rd Street, serves about 250 students in Grades 6 to 8. There, 27 percent met standards in English, versus 37 percent citywide; 28 percent did so in math, versus 32 percent.
The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, 351 West 18th Street, contains several public high schools, including Landmark, Humanities Preparatory Academy, Manhattan Business Academy, the James Baldwin School and Hudson High School of Learning Technologies. Quest to Learn, with Grades 6 to 12, is also within the campus.
Subway stations nearby include 14th Street-Eighth Avenue, where the A, E and L trains stop full time and the C part time. The 23rd Street station has the E full time and the A and C part time. The 7 train stops at 34th Street-Hudson Yards. Buses include the M14A, M14D, M11, M12 and M23.
The writer and theologian Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) was also a developer, subdividing and leasing out land he had inherited, which at one time extended several blocks in the West 20s from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. By the turn of the 20th century the waterfront was a major port.