When architect Gene Kaufman stepped to the podium at a Community Board 4 meeting last night and said that his design plans for a rooftop addition to the Hotel Chelsea would be barely visible, a single audience member broke the tension by braying in derision. That's pretty much where things stand between hotel owner Joseph Chetrit and opponents of his move to transform the bohemian landmark into a luxury hotel and nightspot. Kaufman presented a number of renderings to the board and the audience with all the enthusiasm of an elementary school student diagramming an explanation of how he'd accidentally run over the class hamster with his skateboard. When it was all said and done, CB4 voted to recommend that the Landmarks Preservation Commission deny the request to build the addition.
Kaufman was met with mostly respectful and stony silence, interrupted only by some people asking him to speak up. As the architect presented it, the most visible portion of the rooftop addition will be water tanks that would be added and could be seen from 22nd Street. The rest of the addition would be barely visible because it is only 1/4 the size of the rest of the floors, explained Kaufman, and his assistant emphasized this point by indicating barely visible changes to the roofline in renderings with the tip of his finger.
[Video from the Chelsea Hotel Blog]
Some residents weren't buying it, however, and said that their rooftop access would be blocked by the addition, and a 150-person-capacity bar on the roof would be disruptive. CB4 requested that the LPC hold off on any decision until existing tenants' rights to rooftop access could be clarified, according to DNAinfo. The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold its hearings on the Hotel Chelsea next Tuesday.
· Hotel Chelsea Owner Wants to Build Rooftop Bar, Documents Show [DNAinfo]
· In His Own Words, Architect Gene Kaufman's Plans for the Chelsea Hotel -- Part I [ChelseaHotelBlog]
· Hotel Chelsea coverage [Curbed]