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The New York City Planning Commission voted August 8, 2007 to approve a special permit for 12 additional parking spaces in addition to the 3 permitted for a new, 16-unit residential condominium tower at 200 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea.

The proposed parking spaces would be inside 15 of the 16 units rather than in a garage, the latest and most grandiose "amenity" to be offered in the current round of luxury residential construction in the city.

The 18-story building is being developed by Youngwoo & Associates, which is also involved in the Chelsea Arts Tower, a 20-story, commercial condominium building nearing completion nearby on West 25th Street.

Community Board 4 voted 31 to 10 with one person stating he was present but not eligible May 2, 2007 to recommend that the special permit not be granted.

Several speakers at the meeting argued that while the number of requested parking spaces would not have a serious impact on the community a granting of the requests would set a bad precedent since the city's zoning laws only permit a developer to provide parking spaces for up to 20 percent of the project's units in areas in Manhattan south of 60th Street.

The resolution passed by the board noted that "the application is admittedly novel," adding that it is "contrary to PLANYC's recently announced program to reduce vehicle trips and presence in mid-Manhattan" and "if granted, would by permitting accessory parking for some 90 percent of the apartments, set a dangerous and unwarranted precedent undercutting the intent of the Zoning Regulation if applied to larger buildings."

The city's recent rezoning of West Chelsea and the High Line area did not alter the city's zoning regulations relating to parking even though Chelsea, as well as other parts of Manhattan, have witnessed an evaporation of parking lots as they have been gobbled up for development in recent years.

The garage "rooms" may be the building's most unusual feature, but its most visible feature will be its unusual facade that its website maintains was "inspired by neighboring industrial lots, the concepts of Erwin Hauer and structural forms found in nature."

The building's facade has a base that will clad in gunmetal glazed terracotta while the setback tower design has very large multi-paned windows at the base of which curved stainless steel spandrels protrude.

Annabelle Selldorf is the architect for 200 11th Avenue.

On June 18, Borough President Scott Stringer issued a recommendation approving the application for a special permit on the condition that it be limited to 13 spaces.

The planning commission's approval noted that it "recognizes that there is limited existing public parking in the immediate vicinity and that there is limited capacity within these facilities." It also noted that "The development of the High Line elevated rail structure into public open space and continued growth of the West Chelsea art gallery district may create further demand" and therefore it "believes the proposed garage would appropriately serve the needs of the residents of the residential building" and "the small increase would not unduly inhibit traffic and pedestrian flow."

A spokesperson for the developer told today said it anticipates learning about a vote on the application by the City Council this week.
Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.