October 31, 2003
RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE
Chelsea Rental Tower Set by Year-End
By EDWIN McDOWELL
The Aston, a 38-story tower nearly finished in Chelsea, will have 269 rental apartments.
The newest rental building on the Avenue of the Americas in Chelsea is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, a 38-floor tower that will be the fifth built since the corridor from 24th to 31st Streets was rezoned to residential use from industrial in 1995.
The new building, occupying the east side blockfront between 27th and 28th Streets and named the Aston, will add 269 upscale apartments to the 1,208 recently built in the corridor.
Those 1,208 other apartments are in four high-rise rental buildings: the 36-floor Capitol at Chelsea between West 26th and 27th Streets, which has 387 apartments; the 30-story Vanguard between 24th and 25th Streets, with 300; a 32-story building at 777 Avenue of the Americas between 26th and 27th Streets, with 294; and the 34-story Chelsea Tower at West 26th Street, with 227.
The developer of the Aston is Matthew Adell, who with his father, Leonard, a onetime custom tailor in the garment district, waged a lengthy struggle to have the corridor, long the center of the city's wholesale flower business, rezoned for residential occupancy. "Before rezoning," said Mr. Adell, the president of the Manhattan-based Adell Corporation, "the whole area was mercantile and parking lots."
No other new residential buildings are under construction or planned for the immediate future in the area.
In the 1970's, Leonard Adell began assembling three sites in the corridor. In 1999, after the corridor had been rezoned, Matthew Adell bought those sites with Steven Witkoff, the president of the Witkoff Group, and in 2001 the partnership built the Capitol at Chelsea, its first rental building.
The partnership subsequently sold the building. It also bought the land where the Chelsea Tower now stands and sold it.
Mr. Adell bought the Aston site and is building the tower himself. Both the Aston and the Capitol at Chelsea were designed by the architectural firm of Costas Kondylis & Partners, and the Gotham Construction Company has been the general contractor on both.
At the Aston, the entire second floor has been devoted to amenities, which include a health club, an outdoor patio deck and boccie courts, as well as a lounge with a pool table, a large-screen television and an audiovisual system. The building will also include a garage for 85 cars, a rooftop sky deck, a laundry room with a lounge, video camera security and valet service.
Monthly rentals for studio apartments are expected to start at $1,995, one-bedroom units at $2,595, lofts at $3,195 and two-bedroom units at $4,595. Rentals in the other new high-rise buildings in the corridor are comparable to those of the Aston, and all of them are said to have high occupancies.
Shaun Osher, an executive vice president of Douglas Elliman, said that many people who would otherwise buy a condominium or co-op were paying up to $4,700 a month for a two-bedroom rental apartment because condos and co-ops were in short supply in Chelsea.
Further changes may be coming for the businesses that have given their name to the area, which the Flower Market Association of New York City says has been in the West 28th Street neighborhood since the 1890's.
While there has been periodic talk among the approximately 50 wholesale and retail florists of moving to other boroughs or other neighborhoods, this time it could be more than talk. "Last year, we looked at several buildings, including one on 11th Avenue and another in Long Island City," said James B. Cooke, the association's director, "but they didn't work out."
While the association's members cite a number of reasons for wanting to relocate elsewhere, including getting away from traffic congestion on West 28th Street and a lack of parking for customers and suppliers, another lure for relocating is the association's estimate that moving to a modern facility in a favorable location would double sales to $170 million annually.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company