West Chelsea Car-Elevator Apartments: Going Down?


No doubt you remember the hype: Architect Annabelle Selldorf's design for 200 Eleventh Avenue included private car elevators, which would lift owners, still in their vehicles, to their apartments. Selldorf was allegedly inspired by the body-shop flatlands of West Chelsea, but it was no coincidence that this extra layer of privacy made the building attractive to celebrities; there was a report that Madonna was scouting a unit. But now the Fire Department might put an end to all that fun. Howard Hill, FDNY's chief of fire prevention, in early February wrote to the city's Buildings Department, to object to the plan. "For obvious life-safety reasons," he wrote, "this design concept and use should be prohibited."

Tonight, a committee of the local community board votes on whether to endorse 200 Eleventh's permit applications, and Friday the board's chairman received a letter from Fire Department official John Yacovone saying that the department "maintains its official position in complete opposition." (The full board votes May 2, on the recommendation of the committee.) The developers had previously assured the board chairman that safety issues would be resolved, district manager Robert Benfatto tells us, but the fresh objection seems to void that. "My guess would be they might be inclined to oppose it if the Fire Department says it's a safety hazard," Benfatto says. Sorry, Madonna. —Alec Appelbaum