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Art Galleries Ditching Chelsea for Flower District 'Grittiness'

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Erin on the Run

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In the Chelsea art gallery scene, it's different people, but the same story: the rent is too damn high. That's why gallery owner Casey Kaplan was looking for a way out of his West 21st Street space when his lease expired, since it would cost him double to stay in the former taxi garage he had occupied since 2005. Plus, it gave him the opportunity to get into the art lover's next destination neighborhood: the Flower District.

"The grittiness of it is appealing," Kaplan told the Wall Street Journal, adding that he likes how The Flower District "unfixed and still in flux," like Chelsea was back in the day. Plus, it's hard to beat doubling your old space (to 10,000 square feet) at half the price. He'll open next week at 121 West 27th Street, an address that used to house wholesale retail shops for things like socks and underwear.

Kaplan is not alone in "wanting to break out of the art mall," as he put it, to put down roots here. The paper writes that many up-and-coming galleries are looking to this micro-zone that runs roughly from 26th to 28th streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues as a viable alternative.

"It's very dynamic, vibrant, alive," said Cristina Grajales, who moved here from Soho last year. "It's an area with a lot of potential for growth."

Galleries aren't the only thing making their way to the area, either. Spurred by places like the Ace Hotel, Opening Ceremony, and the Nomad Hotel, fitness spots from Doonya to Soulcycle have already headed here, the trendy Sweetgreen is on Broadway, and the second coming of Rizzoli is just a couple months away.

However, there is one definite benefit of staying in Chelsea: the built-in local clientele. "I'm very optimistic with all the residential buildings going up," 10th Avenue gallery owner Lori Bookstein told the paper. "That means lots of people with lots of walls."