As starchitect-designed condos pop-up along the High Line, Chelsea’s art galleries look for a new home

Architecture Art Development East
September 2014, Chelsea, New York. (Courtesy John Gillespie)

September 2014, Chelsea, New York. (John Gillespie / Flickr)

As rents go up in a city succumbing to gentrification, the few remaining art galleries in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood have either left or are looking set to leave.

This however, is nothing new for the art galleries of New York, according to Stuart Siegel, senior vice president at real-estate broker CBRE Group who specializes in Chelsea. The galleries have been been victims of their own success before. “The galleries put Chelsea on the map. Then the world followed them,” Siegel told Crain’s. Now, high-end development along the High Line is responsible for chasing many galleries away.

David Zwirner's building in Chelsea by Selldorf Architects was hailed by AN as "the best building since the financial crisis" Courtesy JASON SCHMIDT

David Zwirner’s building in Chelsea by Selldorf Architects was hailed by AN as “the best building since the financial crisis.” (Courtesy Jason Schmidt)

Crain’s went on to note that only “high-end emporiums” such as Gagosian Gallery, Gladstone Gallery, and David Zwirner—all of which own their own buildings—remain. They have learned the lessons of the past when art galleries previously “revitalized” Soho, only to be forced out due to increasing rent prices. The hike has even affected Jeff Koons, the world’s most expensive living artist at auction according to Crain’s. Koons plans to move out within the next two years.

Developments from Zaha Hadid, Foster+PartnersFrank Gehry, and others have popped up all along the High Line, and will only further the gentrification of the area as rent prices continue to increase. Troy McMullen at the Financial Times commented that “at present there are more than 20 new developments – with more than 2,700 new units – planned either near, alongside or under the High Line, according to New York City’s Department of Buildings, making this narrow, 2.3km-long strip of land one of the highest concentrations of new architecture and property development in the US.”

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