A $520 million project ceremonially broke ground in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood Monday afternoon after six years of planning between developer Gotham Organization, the city and Community Board 4.

The Gotham West development, slated to span four acres, or nearly the entire city block bounded by 10th and 11th avenues and 44th and 45th streets, has been underway since July.

But dignitaries, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler made it a little more official as the sun went down over the Hudson River late Monday afternoon.

The project, by creating 1,238 residential units -- 682 of which will be affordably priced -- and 15,000 square feet of street-level retail in four mid-rise buildings, as well as a 10,000-square-foot courtyard, and a 200-space below-grade parking garage, is one of the largest developments currently underway in New York City.

Gotham President David Picket, and the elected officials on hand couched the development, slated to be completed by the end of 2014, as yet another sign of the continued success of the economy and real estate market in New York City.

Even as the recession loomed, we invested millions of our own capital to keep this development moving forward, Picket said, beaming as excavation work proceeded behind him in the vast lot being overhauled as Gotham West. This bold investment in our city's future will create hundreds of new jobs, generate millions of dollars in revenue for the construction industry, contribute toward the building of a new primary school and provide home to thousands of New Yorkers.

Located just a block east of the U.S.S. Intrepid, the project is one of several new anchor developments in the booming Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Once a wasteland of dockside gangs and organized crime, and for most of the latter half of the 20th century a drab warehouse district, Hell's Kitchen is rising, according to real estate experts and politicians. Restaurants now line its main drags and rents are rising as newer, better housing stock goes in through the advent of projects like Gotham West. The lot on which the project will be constructed was most recently home to a parking lot, horse stables and a vacant warehouse, and it was condemned in 1975.

Just last week Bloomberg and Quinn attending an event announcing a major anchor tenant at a Hudson Yards office building that breaks ground next year; the extension of the No. 7 subway line to the neighborhood is slated to be complete within two years; and a host of other major plans are slated to transform the neighborhood.

We always believed the far west side of Manhattan had vast potential, Bloomberg said Monday. This is a tremendous investment in the future of New York City.

Quinn, who represents the neighborhood and several other west side enclaves, seconded Bloomberg's remarks, and expounded on the benefits of the project's affordable housing component, as well as that of the new public school the developer plans to build.

The impossible is happening with this development. This is a model for the community to show that it is possible to create affordable and middle-income housing and Manhattan, Quinn said Monday. We don't have today just another west side story, we have another west side success story.

Bloomberg summed up the sentiment in off-the-cuff remarks toward the end of the event.

This is the west side, where no one wanted to live before, and if you look at what's happened here in the past 10 years, it's really quite magical, Bloomberg said.