Newest high-rise affordable housing project at Hell’s Kitchen ‘Slaughterhouse’ site clears latest hurdle

For decades, the city has grappled with the question of what to do with a small parking lot above the Lincoln Tunnel in Hell’s Kitchen “Slaughterhouse,” its informal name honoring the major hub of local butchers that once stood there.

On Monday, it seemed all parties got a little closer to getting the answer when the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced that the Manhattan Borough Board had approved a dual skyscraper plan for 495 11th Ave. that would bring the community hundreds of new affordable housing units as well as an hotel, office space and even a supermarket.

It was the latest bureaucratic hurdle that the EDC cleared toward gaining approval of the project, which will be developed by Radson Development and Kingspoint Heights. The Department of Buildings and the Public Design Commission must still approve the project before ground is broken, but the EDC projected that could happen sometime in 2022.

All of the 350 housing units within the two skyscrapers, 55 and 56 stories high, will be 100 percent and permanent affordable housing, the EDC noted. Approximately 75 of the units will be provided to formerly homeless individuals and families as supportive housing units, where the residents would receive various social and health services from the Center for Urban Community Services.

“This project will provide much-needed affordable housing and services for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and will strengthen the business and the tourism sectors, which are key to the city’s economy and recovery from the COVID crisis,” said EDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb.

The Slaughterhouse site was once the home of the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company, a six-story, block-long building that for years served as the final stop for cattle on their way to the killing floor, and then meat markets around town. The company went out of business in the 1970s, and the city took title of the building in 1978 due to non-payment of property taxes.

For the next four decades, the location remained in a state of uncertainty.

A 2019 photo of the parking lot at 495 11th Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen.Photo via Google Maps

First, the Economic Development Corporation attempted to repurpose the Slaughterhouse as office space in the 1980s, but that plan fell through after the building was deemed structurally unsound.

In 1993, the city tore down the structure and, after 18 months, the site was converted into a parking lot for the NYPD. 

Over the last decade, the city sought to redevelop the site along with other underutilized locations in nearby Hudson Yards. In 2015, at the urging of Manhattan Community Board 4, the EDC issued a request for proposals to redevelop the Slaughterhouse site. 

The final plan, agreed upon after nearly six years of wrangling between the EDC, Community Board 4, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others, led to the dual skyscraper plan that will create about 2,540 construction jobs and 641 permanent jobs. 

“Manhattan Community Board 4 identified the Slaughterhouse site for permanent affordable housing with a range of incomes in 2009 and, after more than a decade of advocacy, we are confident the project will result in 100% permanent affordable housing the community so desperately needs,” said Board 4 Chairperson Lowell D. Kern.

The EDC says the developers have agreed to hire locally, reaching agreements with two local labor unions: 32BJ SEIU and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. 

“Radson Development and Kingspoint Heights are excited for this opportunity to bring a fully affordable residential building with support services to Hell’s Kitchen, along with a new hotel and supermarket,” said Dan Rad of Radson Development. “We look forward to an ongoing partnership with the community as we build and lease up this project.