Does This New Starbucks on 26th Street Mean Chelsea Is Over?

Is it the final horseman of the gentrification apocalypse?

Starbucks logo.
Image: en.wikipedia.org.

The Fourth Horseman of the Gentrification Apocalypse may be heaving into view in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. What appears to be a Starbucks coffee franchise is gearing up to open on 26th Street.

The writing was on the wall when the High Line and the Whitney Museum of American Art came to the neighborhood, and rising rents are driving smaller galleries to set up shop in the Lower East Side, or even Los Angeles.

But the evil empire responsible for the Pumpkin Spice Latte will soon open right next to James Cohan Gallery, within a stone’s throw of Greene Naftali, and across the street from Robert Miller and Mitchell-Innes & Nash.

James Cohan staffer Cassandra Robinson Instagrammed the picture above of the façade today, adding that a poster in the window promises a November 30 opening. “A sad, sad day for Chelsea,” she opined in the post.

Courtesy Cassandra Robinson.

Courtesy Cassandra Robinson.

Others didn’t take the news so calmly, however. Greene Naftali director Vera Allemani flew into a rage when informed of the new coffee joint on the block.

“I don’t give a shit. I have an espresso machine outside my office,” she told artnet News in phone interview. “But what is Frappuccino? In Italy you would be put in jail for this.”

She looked out the window toward the neighborhood-wrecking location, which offers sandwiches, fruit salads, and CDs in addition to creamy caffeinated beverages and an assortment of teas. “The sign doesn’t look real,” she said, perhaps holding on to some hope for the district. “It’s too chic for a Starbucks.”

Another dealer on the block, similarly, wasn’t initially convinced.

“It’s art, not real,” said Mitchell-Innes & Nash director Bridget Finn in a text message.

Others are quite convinced it’s the real deal.

“I went in,” BravinLee Programs’ John Post Lee told artnet News by phone after being asked to do a reconnaissance mission.

“There are actual Starbuckers in there,” he said. “I asked, ‘This is a Starbucks?’ they said yes. I said, ‘This isn’t performance art?’

“They said, ‘It’s a Starbucks.’”

Finn later followed up by texting a photo of the poster in the window. “Gotta be real,” she texted.

Photo by Bridget Finn.

Image: Courtesy of Bridget Finn.

Still, an image of a coffee cup on the poster has checkboxes indicating you can get, added to your coffee, “The High Line,” “Artistic,” and “Unique.”

So much for it being an art project, but obviously the retailer aims to be a bit ironic about its new outpost’s High-Line-adjacent, artistic, unique location.

Starbucks press rep Holly Hart Shafer confirmed by phone that, in fact, it’s a Starbucks.

“There’s already been a company here selling $10,000 Italian handbags,” Lee lamented of the changes in the area, “and the mock solemnity of Comme des Garçons.”

“What did anybody expect?” he said. “There goes the neighborhood.”


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