It's ironic to think that some of the Williamsburg waterfront development experience could inform what's going on in the current debate embroiling the proposed expansion of Chelsea Market in Manhattan. But such was the case at last night's Community Board 4 meeting tackling the ongoing issues of whether Chelsea Market and its owner and developer, Jamestown Properties, should be permitted to expand the market and build an office tower and hotel on top of the already jam-packed market, business hub, tourist mecca. As is the current case in Williamsburg, the addition of office space, residential units and hotel rooms (Wythe Hotel, anyone?) brings newfound customers to the community. While it's not without its drawbacks (as one urban planner noted last night, the biggest fear in change that many residents harbor is the fear of the unknown), more people at more different times of day actually helps feed the neighborhood by providing new income opportunities to the independent business owners and increases the tax base that goes ultimately, presumably and hopefully right back into the immediate neighborhood.
We attended last night's meeting and expressed our support. We shared just a few numbers and stories from our three and half months of pop-ups pioneering what was a once forlorn corner on West 15th and Tenth into an active retail space inside the market. Here they are:
- 50 pre mom & pop shops and independent retailers had the opportunity to experience Manhattan retail at Chelsea Market
- 15 of these sellers went on to significantly grow their businesses - increasing employees either as production assistants, sales people or designers
- More than a dozen new wholesale accounts were picked up paving the way for more New York and Brooklyn-based industry and production
Trust us, the stories go on and on and our designers, sewers, makers, jewelers and vintage collectors could regale you way past the marathon CB4 meeting. But if its meeting notes you crave, Curbed will give you the skinny so click it.