Is the Meatpacking District the Next Midtown?

April 1, 2015

Rendering of 860 Washington Street, via James Carpenter Design Associates

We tend to think of the Meatpacking District as more of an after-hours or weekend destination for cocktails and shopping, but a piece in the Times today looks at the “influx of office space and more” moving into the neighborhood.

In addition to the much-anticipated opening on May 1st of Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum along the High Line, a James Carpenter-designed 10-story glass commercial tower and Samsung’s six-story flagship building are taking shape across from the Standard Hotel. And let’s not forget about Pier 55, the $130 million futuristic floating park that is expected to break ground in 2016 off West 14th Street. With all of these new cultural attractions that will undoubtedly attract tourists, coupled with big-name companies joining the likes of Google in the area, is the Meatpacking District the new Midtown?

837 Washington Street, Morris Adjmi Architects, Meatpacking District, Samsung buildingRendering of 837 Washington Street via Morris Adjmi Architects

The James Carpenter-designed 860 Washington Street will replace a low-scale meat-cooler facility, the building type that once dominated the industrial area. The first floor will house retail space to be leased for $600/square foot; by comparison, the average ground-floor retail space is about $340/square foot, according to Karen Bellantoni of brokerage company RKF. The second floor will also boast retail and open directly to the High Line for $300/square foot. The upper floors will be leased out as office space. The developers, Property Group Partners in partnership with Romanoff Equities, hope to attract tenants from the finance and law fields, traditionally associated with Midtown. This past summer, Samsung leased the entire building at 837 Washington Street, the Morris Adjmi-designed glass and steel trapezoidal structure built on top of a historic brick building. Large tech companies such as this are also more commonly found in Midtown, with their smaller counterparts heading to Union Square.

BKSK Architects' Pastis extension
Rendering of the new Pastis building via BKSK Architects

Even the neighborhood’s local restaurants and bars, which became synonymous with the area during the Cosmo-drinking reign of Sex and the City, are being replaced with high-end retail. For example, the famed French bistro Pastis is being replaced with a Restoration Hardware, and the building is getting a glass topper by BKSK Architects.

Gansevoort Market, Meatpacking District
Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District, via CityRealty

Some fear that the move toward commercial buildings will affect the historic character of the Meatpacking District. Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who opposed the design for 860 Washington Street, told the Times: “This next stage of its evolution to a high-end office district I fear will make the meatpacking district feel even more indistinguishable from Midtown. There is no denying that the district has traveled a long way from its workingman roots, and there is no turning the clock back.” However, Stuart Romanoff, a vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Tenants today want the ability to attract employees, they want lifestyle, they want entertainment, they want the restaurants, they want the hospitality and they want the park. The unique thing about the meatpacking district is it has all those elements converging.”


[Via NYT]

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