Citing “financial headwinds during Covid,” the art dealer David Zwirner said he has decided not to proceed with a 50,000-square foot, five-story, $50 million gallery designed by Renzo Piano on a corner lot at 540 West 21st Street.

Instead, the prestigious gallery plans to build a new 18,000-square-foot, two-story gallery at 533 West 19th Street designed by Annabelle Selldorf, for the same cost, with construction scheduled to start later this year.

“This is a classic case of making lemonade out of lemons,” Zwirner said in a telephone interview. “This will solidify our commitment to Chelsea, arguably the world’s premiere art district.”

That was the same commitment he said he was making when he announced the original project in 2018. Zwirner had planned to close his West 19th Street location, a rented space, and keep his other Chelsea gallery, on West 20th Street, but move “the center of gravity” to 21st Street.

The 21st Street gallery was part of a larger development by the investor Uri Chaitchik of Casco Development that encountered financial trouble during the pandemic. That was to be a separate structure with three floors of galleries connected to Casco’s residential tower.

Zwirner would not disclose the financial terms of extricating the gallery from that project. Chaitchik could not be reached for comment.

Piano was the developer’s architect; it would have been that architect’s first commercial gallery. Zwirner typically uses Selldorf, who designed his new space in Los Angeles, which opened in May with a show of the artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

In October 2021, Zwirner opened a location at 52 Walker in TriBeCa directed by Ebony L. Haynes.

He also has a gallery on the Upper East Side.


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