I would argue that the site at 511-525 W. 18th St in West Chelsea that is about to be bought by RELATED is the most important build able site in the West Chelsea area. While some skeptics may argue that paying more than $700/sf for this site was absurd, and certainly in record territory for the area, I would say this purchase was actually……cheap. It is deeply discounted compared to the less desirable site bought by Victor Homes (with Michael Shvo) last year located at Tenth Avenue and 24th Street where Peter Marion is designing a super-luxe building on the site of a former gas station.
Related is planning to build a 254-foot tall residential tower on the site west of the High Line. That building can span much of the block, where it will be adjacent to the Frank Gehry-designed IAC headquarters building. To build to that height in the High Line district, which normally caps development at 125 feet, Related will buy neighboring air rights that allow it to build higher. This is one of the last remaining important sites on what has become known as the ‘Platinum Mile’ joining other buildings such as 100 Eleventh Avenue, 551 West 21st Street and 200 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea and Related’s other development 400 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village along with the Richard Meier Towers and 150 Charles Street. All these buildings have one thing in common: very high pricing. With that in mind $700/sf is possibly a bargain in todays climate.
Now we should all beg Related not to build a generic, dull building: the fact that they are building the Zaha Hadid-designed building further north gives us hope they are prepared to create something more interesting on this prime site, more in keeping with the design revolution that makes West Chelsea what it is today. Who will be the architect to join the ranks of Frank Gehry, Annabelle Selldorf, Steven Harris, Jean Nouvel, Cary Tamarkin, Thomas Juul-Hansen, Norman Foster and Neil Denari? The proximity to the West Village, Meatpacking District and the soon-to-be-opened Whitney Museum, not to mention the Hudson and Highline parks make this site a certain winner.