Is it Mr. Nober's implication that public opinion is always constant?
I just recieved this from the Friends of the High Line news letter.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28: COMMUNITY INPUT MEETING FOR HIGH LINE DESIGN
As part of a multi-stage planning process leading to a design master plan for the High Line, Friends of the High Line (FHL) will hold an open community input session on October 28. There, FHL will solicit public comment on the design proposals created for Designing the High Line, the ideas competition FHL held earlier this year. We invite local residents and business-owners and all interested New Yorkers to come tell FHL which designs you liked (and which ones you didn’t like) and let us know what good ideas might have been missed by all 720 competition entrants. Public comment gathered at this event will be distilled into a list of community-mandated design guidelines that will be included in the Request for Proposals to be distributed to prospective design teams. This event offers High Line community members and the general public a valuable opportunity to register comments and ideas at the very start of the design process. We hope to see you there.
Tuesday, October 28 @ TIME TBA (Evening)
110 West 19th Street (6th/7th Avenues)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11: OPEN HOUSE NEW YORK & HIGH LINE VIEWING
On Saturday, October 11, Friends of the High Line will participate in the inaugural openhousenewyork (OHNY), one of the largest celebrations of architecture and design in New York City history. OHNY will invite the public inside 75 fascinating sites, many of which are usually closed to the public, in all five boroughs—at no charge. Since we cannot offer tours of the High Line to the general public, FHL will participate by offering a unique rooftop view of the High Line. To request information on the OHNY inaugural weekend event, contact email@example.com.
City Unveils Plans to Turn Old Rail Line Into a Park
By WINNIE HU
The Bloomberg administration moved ahead yesterday with its plans to transform an abandoned elevated rail line into a 1.6-mile-long park and make it the centerpiece for new commercial and residential developments along the western edge of Chelsea.
At a news briefing, city planning officials unveiled a detailed proposal to carve out a special redevelopment district along 10th and 11th Avenues, between West 16th and West 30th Streets. The plan is part of the city's overall effort to encourage and control development on the West Side, Manhattan's most undeveloped area.
Zoning there would be changed from manufacturing and commercial uses to allow up to 4,200 units of new housing, primarily along the avenues.
Running through it would be the High Line, a railroad viaduct from the 1930's that extends from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. Development along the line would be restricted to protect the open views. The plan also restricts development of midblock areas throughout the district to preserve the low-lying warehouses that are home to more than 200 art galleries.
In a concession to those who own land directly under the High Line, the proposal would allow those property owners to sell their air rights — as much as one million square feet — to high-rise developments on the avenues.
Amanda M. Burden, the city's planning director, said the High Line would open up parkland in a part of the city that does not have enough while adding character to a once thriving manufacturing area.
Members of Manhattan Community Board 4 said, however, that they were concerned about the proposed height of some of the buildings and wanted more assurances that there would be enough housing at prices for lower- and middle-income people. City officials estimate that developers could set aside as much as a quarter of the new units at below market rates.
"There really are some very good things there, but there are still some glitches," said Lee Compton, co-chairman of the board's Chelsea preservation and planning committee.
City officials will seek comments on their proposal at a public hearing on Oct. 2, and could adopt the special district as early as next fall. The final proposal would have to be approved by the City Council.
The neighborhood has been much coveted by developers in recent years, prompting the city to insist on an overall plan for the area. Much of the discussion has centered on the future of the High Line.
The last boxcar rumbled over the line more than two decades ago, and many New Yorkers have pushed to save the rusty relic. The rail line has even inspired its own group of patrons, the Friends of the High Line, which has enlisted the help of celebrities like Edward Norton to drum up support for preservation efforts.
Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who keeps a giant color photograph of the railway in his home, has committed to spending more than $15 million over the next four years to transform the High Line into a public space. City officials estimate the project's cost at more than $65 million.
"I'm probably the High Line's biggest supporter," Mr. Miller said. "I've had the opportunity to walk on it, and it's a transforming experience. You see the city in a different way than before."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
Sorry about that...
City Expects 1M SF of Developable Space in West Chelsea
By Barbara Jarvie
Last updated: Sep 24, 2003 05:30PM
NEW YORK CITY-A proposal for the area surrounding the High Line, an elevated steel railroad structure built in the 1930s, but not in use since 1980, would provide for more than one million sf of new residential and commercial development. The proposed Special West Chelsea District encompasses the areas of West 17th and 30th streets between Tenth and Eleventh avenues.
The current zoning of the area allows for light manufacturing and commercial uses. Under the proposal that would be changed to allow a greater density of residential and commercial uses along the avenues and in the mid blocks. Currently, these sites are dominated by parking garages and auto-related stores. The mid-block area is also known as a hotbed for art galleries--as many as 200 have opened their doors in recent years. Further development of galleries will be encouraged and museums will be permitted. The city planning department also anticipates upwards of 4,200 units of affordable and market-rate housing to be added to the district.
"This is a comprehensive, yet site specific plan," said Amanda Burden, director of the New York City Department of City Planning.
"We want to create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood," added Vishaan Chakrabarti, director, Manhattan office, New York City Department of City Planning.
The High Line aims to be the centerpiece for the entire area. In 1999, neighborhood residents founded Friends of the High Line with the mission of converting the structure to an elevated public space.. In December 2002, the city the first step in converting the High Line to a public walkway through federal rails-to-trails legislation. According to Friends, CSX, a rail and shipping company based in Richmond, VA, owns the High Line and the rail easement atop it. The land beneath the structure is owned in parcels by the state, the city and more than 20 private property owners. Earlier in the summer, New York City Council speaker Gifford Miller said there would be a $15.75 million funding commitment the High Line reconstruction. Total costs of the plan could not be determined as much of the funds will come from private sources.
New construction closest to the High Line will be governed by special controls that restrict height and setbacks. Property owners of the land beneath the High Line will receive a transfer of floor area to air space to buildings to the west. Another thought is to allow development such as restaurants if a developer agrees to also construct a stair or elevator for the High Line.
The plan goes before a scoping session in early October and a draft is expected in the spring. A plan for the High Line is expected to be unveiled next summer and the zoning changes could take effect in the fall of 2004.
City announces High Line plan
by Anne Michaud
The Department of City Planning announced today that it will allow land owners under the High Line to sell air rights to residential developers along 10th and 11th avenues, potentially erasing any major objection to refashioning the old railway into an elevated promenade park.
The plan for the High Line--a 1.6-mile stretch of abandoned track that runs from West 17th Street to West 30th Street between 10th and 11th avenues--is part of the city’s push to extend midtown Manhattan's business district west to the Hudson River, an initiative that includes the construction of a new Jets stadium. Also called Hudson Yards, the project would dovetail with rezoning West Chelsea.
Property owners South of 30th Street have objected to the city taking over the structure, now that the elevated train no longer uses the tracks. To mollify property owners, city planners proposed the air rights deal at a press conference Wednesday morning.
The city is also considering a "bonus" package, in which it would pay property owners for building a staircase or elevator to the High Line, in exchange for the right to develop property below it. Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the planning department's Manhattan office, said the city will encourage single-story development under the line, such as restaurants and art galleries.
An advocacy group, the Friends of the High Line, is charged with coming up with a design for a 16,000-square-foot park at the foot of the line at 17th Street.
Copyright 2003, Crain Communications, Inc
Where does the first article come from, Billy? Always mention it.
By Albert Amateau
City Planning Commission Chairperson Amanda Burden and her staff last week presented the city’s plan for the future of West Chelsea to nearly 100 people who attended a Community Board 4 forum.
The plan involves creating a Special West Chelsea District in the area now zoned for manufacturing between 10th and 11th Aves. from 16th to 30th Sts., with the stretch between 16th and 18th Sts. extending east of 10th Ave.
The plan calls for high-rise residential buildings along the avenues and a special art gallery-friendly manufacturing zone in the middle of the district. It specifies low-rise development adjacent to the High Line, the now-derelict 1.5-mile railroad viaduct west of 10th Ave., which the city now hopes to transform into an elevated park.
Characterized as “revolutionary” by Community Board 4 chairperson Walter Mankoff, the West Chelsea plan comes after more than a year of consultations between City Planning staff and members of the community board, which has developed its own alternative version.
Although the board and the city agree on the general outlines of the plan, serious differences remain concerning the height of residential development along the avenues and specific guarantees for the creation of affordable housing.
Community board members have a special problem with the City Planning proposal to allow a 400-ft.-tall residential tower to be developed in what is now a parking lot on the block between 17th and 18th Sts. where the High Line crosses from the east side to the west side of 10th Ave.
Nevertheless, Burden told the Sept. 18 forum at the Fulton Senior Center in Chelsea that the plan was “very respectful of the neighborhood.” She said, “It will assure that all building forms will respect existing buildings in the [Chelsea Historic District] to the east and the manufacturing buildings to the west. We have many areas of agreement and some areas of discussion. We don’t think of it as revolutionary; we see it as planning for the future.”
The plan, she added, “would facilitate the reuse of the High Line, the elevated railroad that runs from the fabulous new Meat Market [Gansevoort Market Historic District] all the way to the end of the Special District.” The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Gansevoort Market Historic District between Gansevoort and W. 14th Sts. earlier this month and the City Planning Commission is expected to approve the designation soon.
The next step in the West Chelsea planning process is a scooping session on Thurs. Oct. 2 at the City Planning Department auditorium at 22 Reade St. for an environmental assessment study. A draft environmental impact statement is expected to be certified by City Planning in the spring of next year and the district could become part of the zoning law in the fall of 2004.
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried was concerned about the effect of the plan on artists who live and work in buildings not included in the 1982 Loft Law that legalized loft studios in manufacturing buildings. He estimated that 150 residents in the proposed district are at risk. The proposed special district calls for allowing museums in the manufacturing zone, a use not included in manufacturing zones outside the special district, Gottfried pointed out.
“Protecting loft tenants does not mean we have to jeopardize the manufacturing zone,” Gottfried said. “City Planning has to figure it out, the same way it figured out how to allow museums in the manufacturing zone.” Gottfried insisted that the issue be included in the environmental assessment study.
The day after the forum, City Planning phoned Gottfried to say the department would study ways to protect loft residents in the West Chelsea Special District manufacturing zone.
William Traylor, deputy commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, told the forum that state and city programs could be used to encourage affordable housing in the proposed special district. He also noted that the city controlled sites just outside the district that could include affordable housing. Burden and Veeshan Chakrabarti, City Planning director for Manhattan, also assured the gathering last week that the plan would “include a significant proportion of affordable housing.”
But for community board members including Velma Hill, of Chelsea, and elected officials like Gottfried and City Councilmember Christine Quinn, the statements were not enough.
“I’d like to see some numbers,” said Hill, who noted that City Planning estimated the Special District could include 4,300 new apartments. But she protested that there was no guarantee that any of them would be below market rate. “I’d say to developers, ‘You have to give a little,’ If they can’t, we don’t want them in our neighborhood,” Hill said.
Jimmy Pelsey, a community board member and president of the Tenants Association of the Fulton Houses, a city Housing Authority development, questioned whether current income eligibility standards would help working families. “How much will it take for working families to live in these magnificent building that are going to go up? Everybody doesn’t have a $30,000 a year job. You must build housing for people who can’t afford housing,” Pelsey said.
Most programs that offer incentives to build housing that is 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordable are geared for families of four that earn 50 percent of median income. Median income in the West Chelsea area is about $62,000.
Janice McGuire, a board member and director of the Hudson Guild, said housing for middle-income and low-income families should be written into the plan.
Lee Compton, co-chairperson of the community board’s Chelsea Planning Committee, lauded the plan as an “ingenious and artistic approach to zoning,” but he said there was a big problem with the proposal for a 400-ft residential tower on the parking lot west of 10th Avenue between 17th and 18th Sts.,
“It’s absurd in relation to the context of the neighborhood. There is nothing remotely like it,” Compton said. The community board recommends a height limit of 280 ft. for the site, Compton added.
City Planning proposed the taller height limit on the parking lot on the west side of the High Line in exchange for a public space on the east side of the viaduct, which would serve as a plaza for “a grand entrance” to the viaduct when it becomes a public park.
But immediately adjacent to the High Line, the city would allow one- or two-story buildings that could accommodate uses like cafés at the High Line level. Property owners along the High Line would be able to sell development rights to residential developers in the high-rise zones along 10th and 11th Aves. and in the north end of the district between 28th and 30th Sts.
For many Chelsea residents, the proposed height limits of 125 to 145 ft. along 10th Ave. are far out of scale with most of the neighborhood on the east side of the avenue. Mary Swartz, president of the Chelsea 400 Block Association, which covers blocks between Ninth and 10th Aves., said the high-rises would create a wall between the special district and the rest of Chelsea. She backs an 80-ft. height limit.
Bruce Smith, development director of the General Theological Seminary, said the height of proposed development along 10th Ave. was out of scale with the five-story buildings of the seminary, which is in the Chelsea Historic District. Smith also urged specific provisions for affordable housing.
Frank Eady, a board member and Chelsea resident for 30 years, called for creation of a Chelsea Waterfront District west of 11th Ave.
Hilda Regier, a former community board member, declared that the height of buildings should taper down toward the waterfront. She also took issue with City Planning’s characterization of “noxious uses” regarding auto repair shops. “Some uses you find noxious are useful for the people who live here,” she said.
November 2, 2003
From Rail to Ruin
By KENNETH T. JACKSON
Manhattan has secrets. Despite millions of daytime residents and hundreds of skyscrapers, it has places as unexpected and out-of-the way as Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst, Mass. One thinks of Chumley's, a former speakeasy on Bedford Street; of Pomander Walk, a private row of Tudor-style cottages out of sight between 94th and 95th Streets; of Sylvan Terrace, a pedestrian-only passageway to the Morris-Jumel mansion with a set of matched wooden row houses; and of half a hundred other spots unknown to ordinary passersby.
But the quirkiest and most invisible place in all of New York City is the High Line, an elevated railroad spur stretching 1.45 miles from the Jacob Javits Convention Center to Gansevoort Street in the once grimy (and now fashionable) meatpacking district. A concrete and steel structure two stories above the sidewalk, it is so big that anyone can see it, but so nondescript and so much a part of the urban landscape that it mostly goes unnoticed.
The High Line was once the southernmost part of Manhattan's major freight route. Built in 1866, the 13-mile-long New York Central and Hudson River Railroad entered the island at Inwood and then ran alongside the Hudson River (through what later became Riverside Park) to 72nd Street. The tracks then continued south on city streets, mostly 11th Avenue, to St. John's Park, bordered by Varick, Hudson, Beach and Laight Streets just below Canal Street. Because the route was at grade all the way, it disrupted traffic and was so dangerous that a rider on horseback had to ride in front of the trains with a red flag. Even so, it earned its nickname, "Death Avenue," honestly.
The High Line was conceived in the late 1920's. One purpose of the $100 million project was to eliminate "Death Avenue" by putting the tracks below grade between 60th and 34th Streets and then two stories above the ground south of that point. Another purpose was to stimulate manufacturing in what was then the most productive and important industrial city in the world. To achieve this end, the two-story High Line viaduct would run through the middle of the block between 10th and 11th Avenues, passing either over or through the structures along the way, making deliveries of raw materials, milk and meat directly into warehouses or factories that were built to allow a train to run through them.
The most difficult engineering feat involved sending heavy freight trains directly through the famed Bell Telephone Laboratories building at Bethune Street. In order to eliminate vibrations that would have disrupted precision instruments, the railroad built caissons independent of the building. Other new structures that accommodated the viaduct included buildings for Swift & Company, the Cudahy Packing Company, and the National Biscuit Company (now the site of Chelsea Market).
The High Line was a good idea. Unfortunately, it didn't work. When the first train rumbled along the track on Aug. 1, 1933, making a delivery to the warehouse of R. C. Williams & Company at 25th Street, manufacturing in New York City was already in decline, the nation was in the middle of the Depression and railroads were languishing across the land. By 1938, more than 77,500 track miles, one-third of the national total, were in receivership.
The High Line had only a few good years, and those were mostly during World War II, when Gotham was the major transshipment point for troops, weapons and supplies heading for the European theater of operations. But after Americans rediscovered their cars and trucks in the postwar years, railroads resumed their long decline. Between the end of the war and 1970, New York area railroads lost half their freight tonnage. The High Line was no exception. Built to last for centuries, it carried its final train, loaded, perhaps apocryphally, with frozen turkeys, in 1980.
Twenty-three years later the High Line still stands. When I first walked along the abandoned tracks in 1982, access to the structure was easy, via any of several sets of stairs. When I ventured up there this fall, I had to have an escort and sign a waiver. But the hassle was worth it. For once I stepped onto the tracks, I entered another world. On a cool New York morning, I saw hyacinths, irises, onion grass and a lone apple tree. The only living creatures I saw were of the winged variety, and they probably find it a blessed miracle that a quiet resting place is available in such an improbable place. (There are no people up there regularly, so no food and thus no rats.)
In places, the track is lined with Art Deco railings. Within these incongruously elegant bounds, vegetation has taken over the rail bed, creating a narrow green walkway past funky nightclubs, aging factories and warehouses, and both old and new apartment buildings. The juxtaposition of high density urban development with hardy urban nature is nowhere on earth so stark or so exciting.
Sadly, the entire structure is off limits to ordinary citizens, which is necessary because the path is uneven and tricky, the old stairways have rusted and broken glass is a threat. And even if you are willing to ignore "No Trespassing" signs and the possibility of arrest, you must be skinny, young and adventurous to slither under, over, or through the barricades.
New York deserves better. The High Line deserves better. A failure as a railroad, it can be successful in a new role more appropriate for 21st century New York. Just as everyone loves Central Park because its meadows and glades allow us to forget that we are in the midst of a huge city, a High Line Park could become a public open space of an altogether different sort, a place that celebrates density and diversity, that shows us how nature can persevere in even the grittiest circumstances, that enables us to understand history not through a book or through a movie but through our own eyes. There is even some precedent for the idea of transforming the High Line into a greenspace. Ten years ago, Paris made an elevated park, the Promenade Plantée, out of an abandoned train viaduct.
Fortunately, the stars are in alignment for such a venture. One group, the Friends of the High Line, has been mobilizing support for the notion for several years now. And while Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani favored tearing down the structure and opening the area to development, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and the City Council as a whole have all publicly endorsed the idea of a public park on the railroad bed. The Republican leadership, in town next summer for their convention, could be enlisted in the effort. And couldn't a High Line Park be incorporated in plans to help lure the Olympics to town in 2012?
Cynical New Yorkers will believe it when they see it. There are a host of development, zoning, and legal issues that could easily undermine the plan or delay it for so long that the High Line could become the West Side version of the Second Avenue Subway. We all know of exciting proposals that never made it beyond the drawing board.
We can't let that happen to the High Line. New York needs more spaces to breathe, more spaces where the city can celebrate its past and its uniqueness. The Hudson River metropolis is not the prettiest or the cleanest or the easiest city in which to live. But it has grown to prominence over the past four centuries by giving people, places and ideas a second chance. The Tweed Courthouse scandalized the nation when it was built 130 years ago, and for decades it stood as a symbol of urban corruption. Recently renovated and refurbished, it now stands in elegance and floodlights as the home of the Department of Education. The High Line can be another story of redemption in New York.
Kenneth T. Jackson, professor of history at Columbia University, is president of the New-York Historical Society. Abelardo Morell, professor of art at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, is author of ‘‘A Book of Books.’’
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company