Chelsea Now/Villager Editorial on the High Line at the Rail Yards

This week's issue of Chelsea Now features an editorial making the case for preserving the entire High Line at the rail yards. The Villager also ran the editorial.

The piece focuses on the High Line's ability to add value to the site by increasing the value of the surrounding real estate, drawing tourists to the area, serving as an invaluable connector to three West Side neighborhoods, and lending some historic context to the site.
Now that the Hudson Yards bids are in, over the next few months Chelsea Now will deal with key aspects of the proposals, starting with this week's Q&A on the northern section of the High Line.

 The High Line is a critical component of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project. Even the developers think so: The majority of them are supporting retention of the northern section of the High Line in their bids.

 The High Line makes good economic sense, as borne out already in Chelsea, where real estate values have appreciated considerably in part because of the elevated rail line's renaissance, and star architects have flocked to build innovative structures nearby.
Read the entire editorial after the jump.

Editorial

High Line should be part of Hudson Yards

Now that the Hudson Yards bids are in, over the next few months Chelsea Now will deal with key aspects of the proposals, starting with this week's Q&A on the northern section of the High Line.

The High Line is a critical component of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project. Even the developers think so: The majority of them are supporting retention of the northern section of the High Line in their bids.

The High Line makes good economic sense, as borne out already in Chelsea, where real estate values have appreciated considerably in part because of the elevated rail line's renaissance, and star architects have flocked to build innovative structures nearby. According to Friends of the High Line's 2002 study - which presumed that properties close to parks and open space such as the High Line see their values increase between 10 and 14 percent over nearby properties, the High Line would bring incremental tax revenue of nearly $200 million to the city. An updated version of the study adjusted that to over $400 million. The city recently completed its own study that said the High Line has already created $950 million in real estate value. That alone is a strong argument for preserving the northern section of the High Line around Hudson Yards, despite some developers' arguments to the contrary.

In addition, the High Line will drive tourism in New York City and the Yards, helping the city to fill the many hotels that are sprouting up on the West Side, including in Chelsea. As F.H.L. co-founder Robert Hammond pointed out this week's Q&A, the 2007 edition of the Lonely Planet NYC travel guide contains five mentions of the High Line, and the first section has yet to open. Clearly, it will be a major draw for New York City for the rest of the century.

 From an urban planning perspective, preserving the High Line is equally compelling. The northern section affords unparalleled views as it wraps around the rail yards, skirting along the Hudson River with views looking onto New Jersey, the Empire State Building and the rest of Midtown. Preserving this section also enables the rail line to connect three neighborhoods in a way that nothing else can, and creates an important buffer along 30th St. that would prevent avenue-like density to be built on a side street.

 From an historic preservation standpoint, the High Line would be the only original remnant in an otherwise new giant development, lending charm and character to the area. It will also serve as a reminder of the original function of the rail yards, which will be all but covered up by the enormous platform to be built over them. Finally, unlike the old Penn Station, which was a thriving architectural gem laid to waste by an appalling lack of vision and poor urban planning, the High Line, which awaits its turn to be brought back to life, represents ideas and possibilities. We have a chance to get it right this time. 

Developers and the MTA have reduced preservation of the High Line's northern section not only to construction challenges but to money. But we should remember that there will be plenty of money to be made in the Hudson Yards redevelopment project, even while retaining the High Line.
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