Local Businesses Ready to Profit from High Line 3



The third section of the High Line remains in its wild state as it waits to be converted for park usage. Photo: David G. Palacio.

Construction on the third and final section of the High Line begins soon after sold-out sneak previews of the area end on Oct. 14,  and will be completed in spring 2014.

The tours, open to the pubic and hosted as a part of Open House New York (OHNY), sold out shortly after becoming available on the OHNY website for the weekend of Oct. 6 and the High Line website for the weekend of Oct. 13.  The new section will expand the park, which currently runs above and just west of Tenth Avenue, from Gansevoort Street at the southern end to 30th Street at its northern end.

The third section of the High Line begins on West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, moves toward the Hudson River along West 30th Street, and then curls north as it reaches Twelfth Avenue and continues north to West 34th Street.   The third section is estimated to cost $90 million.

“I can’t wait- it’s going to be good for the economy,” said Kirit Kothari, a 62-year-old liquor store owner who has lived in the tri-state area since moving from Bombay, India, 35 years ago.  Kothari opened his liquor store in September near the intersection of West 30th Street and Eleventh Avenue.  He had previously owned a liquor store on the Upper East Side, and now pays $6,000 a month in rent for his High Line location, compared to $4,000 for his old location.

The third section of the High Line will be completed in tandem with the development of Hudson Yards, which will include both new businesses and housing- unlike the first two sections of the High Line, in the already established neighborhoods of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.  The plan for Hudson Yards has carved out 5 million square feet of residential space and 7.5 million square feet of commercial space over 26 acres.  The eastern portion of Hudson Yards, set to begin construction in mid-2013, will cost an estimated $6 billion.

Several businesses located within a short distance of the third section of the High Line and Hudson Yards area are preparing for a boom that they anticipate the construction work will bring in, followed, they hope, by an influx of tourists.

“We’re preparing for it…for more business,” said Josh Crane, a manager at Sweet and Savory Café. “We’re looking at doing outdoor seating.”  The café, located near the intersection of West 33rd Street and Tenth Avenue, sits across the street from current Hudson Yards construction and future High Line construction.  To Crane, the benefits of the projects will outweigh any possible negative effects of increased foot traffic through the neighborhood.  “My theory is if it keeps people employed…good,” he said.

The entrance to the third section is currently gated off, providing a glimpse of what the first two sections of the High Line looked like before they were transformed into a park.  Weeds and other plants grow near patches of dirt and concrete, the metal of the train track running the length of the path.  The finished segment will include a grassy play area, a boxcar-turned-restaurant called the “Cold Train,” and multiple seating areas, and will be designed to interact with the shiny metal and glass of the buildings being constructed in the southern Hudson Yards area.

The High Line has generated some controversy because of the commercialization that has followed it, which some believe has contributed to gentrification of the area. But one long-time resident is more accepting, figuring that change is inevitable.

“Based on what’s going on down there, it’s going to be commercialized and change the neighborhood eventually.  So, it has its pluses and minuses,” said Patrick McDonnell, 68, a former New York City native now living in Princeton, New Jersey, as he gazed into the wilderness of the third section from behind the fence, on his first High Line visit.

“The minuses would be changes to the neighborhood,” he said.  “There’s always some people nostalgic for it.”