IT'S ONE EL OF A PARK
NEIGHBORHOOD'S ON THE FA$T TRACK
By TOM TOPOUSIS
November 12, 2007 -- The High Line may be the city's newest jewel - and for Manhattan developers, the rusting rail trestle has been pure gold.
From the Meatpacking District north through West Chelsea, the cachet of a park in the sky has sparked an estimated $900 million in new residential and commercial development in the city's hottest neighborhood.
At least 30 new projects - including 10 already under construction - are on tap in the neighborhood between 10th Avenue and the Hudson River.
Also propelling the building boom has been the city's move two years ago to allow new residential and commercial development in what had been largely an area for manufacturing and warehousing.
"This is development that would not have occurred but for the rezoning and the development of the High Line," said Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff.
Once slated for demolition, the High Line has been embraced by some of the same property owners who once wanted it gone.
"During my first few weeks on the job, I was visited by a number of property owners that insisted that the High Line come down. We were one court decision away from demolition," Doctoroff recalled of his first days as deputy mayor in 2002.
"Now people are calling their buildings the 'High Line this,' or the 'High Line that.' "
The High Line's presence, with its cutting-edge landscape design, alongside a bevy of art galleries has also attracted some of the world's most recognized architects, turning the neighborhood into an enclave of state-of-the-art building design dubbed "Architects Row."
Frank Gehry, Robert A.M. Stern, Jean Nouvel and Renzo Piano have designed projects including corporate headquarters, hotels, residential towers and a new gallery for the Whitney Museum at the southern end of the High Line at Gansevoort Street.
"We're creating one of the most distinctive architectural districts anywhere in the world," said Doctoroff.
Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, said his group has estimated that the new development will generate $260 million in tax revenues over the next 20 years.
"Development would have come to this neighborhood, but without the High Line it would not have come as fast or with as much value," said Hammond.