The future of the iconic Hotel Chelsea is twisting in the breeze with a $90 million price tag attached, so why isn't the situation generating the type of there-goes-the-neighborhood backlash that accompanied, say, the demise of CBGB? As Michael Musto tells the Times: "Its legend has been slowly evaporating. People aren’t viewing this as the demolition of a downtown Lincoln Center: it's a place to stay." Musto also points out there's no evidence yet that the Hotel Chelsea will really change once its sold, which is true, but this story on the landmark bohemian enclave of yore sure makes us believe that it will. Great Nancy's ghost!
The hotel's population of long-term tenants has slowly eroded since longtime manager/co-owner Stanley Bard was ousted and the hotel's board hired a rotating cast of managers that dared try to bring in more tourists (and pushed ahead with some controversial renovations). The Times details the various power struggles, but as for what's next, board member Paul Brounstein says offers will be accepted starting next week, and tenants will be protected for the duration of their leases, but after that, and we'll paraphrase here, good effin' luck.
That's the future, how about the past? No Hotel Chelsea story is complete without some rose-colored remembrances of days gone by, but it sounds like Bob Dylan had to step over a few bodybags on his way to fame and fortune:
At least one room was used as a brothel. It is said that a resident once called the front desk to request a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread, inadvertently using code words for a special delivery: a tray of drugs soon appeared at her door. Fires were periodically lighted by people who had passed out smoking in their beds. There were frequent suicides, with the despondent leaping down the well of the hotel’s lacey wrought iron staircase. Gerald Busby, a 74-year-old composer — he wrote the score to Robert Altman’s “3 Women” — remembers stepping into the hall and encountering an agitated neighbor shakily sipping a beer. Moments later a crowd of police officers arrived: the man had just shot his wife.
Oh, so that's who was haunting the website!
· As Hotel of Stars and Grit Faces Uncertain Future, the City Shrugs [NYT]
· Hotel Chelsea coverage [Curbed]