In the race to develop the West Side of Manhattan, Hell’s Kitchen can seem the tortoise to the Hudson Yards hare. Yet if Hudson Yards suddenly seems to be going up all at once, its neighbor to the north has been moving ahead in slow, deliberate steps, year after year.
About a dozen residential projects are in the pipeline for the neighborhood — some finished, some underway and some in the planning stages. They include Gotham West, a rental complex with more than 1,200 apartments that recently opened on West 45th Street; 540West, a 114-unit condo under construction on West 49th Street; and, on West 50th, Stella Tower, a 51-unit sister building to the Walker Tower in Chelsea. The Chelsea version was named for its architect, Ralph Walker, and the one in Hell’s Kitchen for his wife.
These projects are being built in the area running from West 42nd to West 57th Street, and from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River. When the name “Hell’s Kitchen” gained currency in the 1800s, the neighborhood ran from 59th Street down into the 30s, west of Eighth Avenue, and was known for its gang violence and squalor. Various parts of the loosely defined area have since been called Clinton, Midtown West and Chelsea North. But despite the neighborhood’s 21st-century respectability, Hell’s Kitchen appears to have sticking power as a name. And for the most part, longtime residents have met the changes with tolerance.