Lower West Side among fastest changing neighborhoods

The living room of a three-bedroom loft at 520 W. 19th St.  Courtesy of Warburg Realty
The living room of a three-bedroom loft at 520 W. 19th St. Courtesy of Warburg Realty

BY LAUREN PRICE  |  Intertwined neighborhoods stretching from Gansevoort St. to 34th and from Broadway to the Hudson River, the Meatpacking District, the High Line and Chelsea are among Manhattan’s most sought-after residential locales.

The Meatpacking District runs roughly from Horatio St. west of Eighth Ave. north to W. 16th St. Within that cluster of blocks, the High Line park begins at Gansevoort St. and tracks north to 30th St. (between 10th and 12th Aves.).

The elevated park’s final phase, close to completion, winds around the western edge of the Hudson Yards project and up to 34th St.

Chelsea, whose boundaries encompass nearly all of the High Line, runs from about 14th to 30th Sts., between the Hudson River and Broadway.

Before its gentrification, the Meatpacking District was just that — a working meat market. By the late 19th century, this cobblestoned historic district was filled with as many as 250 meat businesses and slaughterhouses. Currently, less than a dozen remain in operation.

A neighborhood where Florent Morellet’s eponymous French bistro was for decades a 24/7 pioneer is now home to hot designer shops, like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg. The streetscape also includes art galleries, tony clubs and hard-to-get-a-table-at restaurants.

The High Line represents a remarkable transformation of an abandoned strip of a freight rail line — which operated from the 1930s to the ’80s — into a beautifully landscaped public park, the world’s second major elevated park (thehighline.org) — the first being Paris’s Promenade Plantée, a three-mile stretch from Avenue Daumesnil to the Bois de Vincennes on the city’s eastern edge (tinyurl.com/phkc96h).

The High Line was saved from likely demolition when a community-based nonprofit — Friends of the High Line — stepped up in 1999 to push for its preservation and redesign. By 2002, the city was on board, and three years later CSX Transportation began a series of donations of portions of the rail viaduct, ensuring the project would blossom. By 2011, the converted park’s first two phases were completed, taking the park north to 30th St.

A magnet for strolling locals and tourists alike, the High Line has become a huge hit — and convinced the Whitney Museum of American Art to relocate to the rail line’s south terminus by mid-2015 (whitney.org).

It was in the mid-18th century when Thomas Clarke, a retired British Army major, purchased almost 100 acres of land and named it after a London veterans’ hospital. On a hilltop, he built a country estate overlooking the Hudson River, where London Terrace sits today.

Chelsea played an important role in the early days of the motion picture business, with Mary Pickford, the Canadian Oscar winner who became “America’s sweetheart,” shooting some of her earliest movies there. By 1912, however, filmmakers had already started their migration to California.

Through much of the 20th century, Chelsea was a down-at-the-heels neighborhood with a large number of factories and warehouses. But by the early 1970s, a stream of gay men, many priced out of the West Village, began moving to the neighborhood, though not always without tensions. The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project grew up there out of informal gay street patrols.

The 2010 Census found a population of 35,000 in the neighborhood, which by then had for some years been a world-class art district. The High Line Park, the eclectic Chelsea Market (chelseamarket.com), the Chelsea Hotel (a bohemian redoubt for generations (chelseahotels.com), and celebrity-filled eateries like Del Posto (delposto.com) and the Breslin Bar (thebreslin.com) have upped the ante in a district now full of blue-chip real estate.

What’s on the market

A neighborhood once dominated by 19th-century brownstones and row houses has seen an explosion of mid-rise and high-rise rentals, condos and co-ops, one that amped up considerably in the last decade as the High Line park took shape. Big buildings, however, are not new to the neighborhood. Pre-wars have long been a feature here, and none is more famous than London Terrace, which occupies a full city block between Ninth and 10th Aves. and 23rd and 24th Sts., enclosing an interior private garden. The complex’s four corner towers are co-ops, with the remaining 10 buildings rentals.

According to several real estate industry professionals, current median sale prices in the neighborhood hover around $1.9 million. Average monthly rentals range from $3,600 for a studio to about $4,500 for a two-bedroom unit.

Only minutes from the High Line, Halstead Property is currently listing a light-filled one-bedroom duplex with a south-facing terrace inside a gut-renovated Federal-style townhouse built in the 1800s. Located two flights up at 443 W. 24th St. (between Ninth and 10th Aves.), the residence is priced at $1.155 million. It features a washer and dryer, hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, recessed lighting, custom closets, and motorized shades throughout. The reconfigured open kitchen was designed by the Italian firm Molteni & C Dada of Soho, is outfitted with appliances by Smeg, Bosch and Liebherr, and has light elm wood cabinetry. The upper-level bedroom, which accesses the landscaped terrace, has an en suite bathroom dressed in slate tiles (visit halstead.com/sale/ny/manhattan/chelsea/443-west-24th-street/coop/10325145).

A lovely three-bedroom loft is now listed for $4.285 million with Warburg Realty at 520 W. 19th St. (between 10th and 11th Aves). Recently renovated, it offers more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Sunny to the max, this home’s south and north views provide excellent eyefuls of both the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. Features include 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closets and custom-built cabinetry in the living and dining room. The new kitchen’s light wood cabinetry is topped with stone and appliances by Miele, Sub-Zero and Gaggenau, with an adjacent washer/dryer area. The marbled en suite master bathroom has a double-sink vanity, as well as a separate glass-door shower and soaking tub with marble surrounds. A luxury condominium, the building offers round-the-clock doorman/concierge services and private storage (visit warburgrealty.com/property/47440620140711).

A one-bedroom co-op at 160 Ninth Ave. (between 19th and 20th Sts.) is now listed with TOWN Residential. Inside a 1920 pre-war building, it boasts high ceilings, exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and a decorative fireplace. Facing southeast, it provides lovely garden views and lots of light. The open kitchen and bathroom were renovated a year ago. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Built-in, through-wall air  conditioning and ample overhead storage can be found in the bedroom. Priced at $669,000, the monthly maintenance is low (visit townrealestate.com/sale/id-234637/160-ninth-avenue-2r-chelsea).

With full city views on a quiet tree-lined cobblestone street around the corner from the High Line, Hudson River Park, Abingdon Square and the Meatpacking District, a triple-mint studio at 354 W. 12th St. (between Greenwich and Washington Sts.) is the very definition of location, location, location! It has 10-foot ceilings, exposed brick, tall arched windows, beautiful woodwork, a decorative fireplace, refinished hardwood floors and terrific closet space. The kitchen features solid cherry cabinetry with extra storage, honed granite countertops and appliances from Viking and Sub-Zero. The bathroom is outfitted with glass mosaic tile, a unique bronze vessel sink and Philippe Starck-designed Hansgrohe fixtures. The building features a large landscaped common garden and has a live-in super. This co-op is priced at $430,000 (visit corcoran.com/nyc/listings/display/3229859).

No-fee rentals are available at the new Abington House at 500 W. 30th St. (between 10th and 11th Aves.), which is leasing studios to two-bedroom units with open plans, a select number of which have private outdoor space. South- and west-facing units offer breathtaking views of the High Line, the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, and all the residences feature large windows, oak floors and washer/dryers. The building has three communal terraces (including one dedicated to barbequing), along with party rooms, indoor/outdoor screening rooms, lounge areas (one with five iMacs) and Dog City for walking, play date, grooming and training services. Rents start at $3,600 per month (visit related.com)