Chelsea Hotel Shuts Its Doors To Guests, Faces Change With Uncertainty

by Mara Siegler · August 1, 2011

As of last night, the famed Chelsea Hotel will no longer be taking hotel guests.  Those with reservations at the legendary spot were sent an email notifying them that they had "been informed by the management of the Hotel Chelsea that they will undergo a change of ownership. We've been further informed that the new owners will close the property to undergo a year long renovation project."

The kicker:

As a result, Hotel Chelsea will be closing immediately and will be unable to accommodate your reservation.

But not all guests went quietly. According to Living with Legends: The Hotel Chelsea Blog, one family called the cops because staff removed their bags while they were out.

Things have been going down hill since Stanley Bard, who oversaw operations since the days of Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin, was ousted by the hotel’s board of directors four years ago. I lived across the street and would see new signs and banners each day with large scrolling letters 'Bring back The Bard."


And now, the hotel is to be purchased for $80 million by developer Joseph Chetrit. Residents suspect that the move to remove hotel guests and therefore hotel employees is a union-busting one. After being closed as a hotel for a year, he could hire non-union workers after the contract expires.

The renovations themselves won't change the feel of the landmarked building. Gene Kaufman, an architect hired to oversee the renovations, told the New York Times that the plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems and the lobby all had to be overhauled, but the charm would be preserved.

The 100 permanent residents of the hotel will be allowed to stay.  The New York Times reports that most will miss the guests.

“It’s kind of fun to have this influx of people, even if you’re making fun of them,” said one resident. Tony Notarberardino, a 17 year resident, hosted an “end of an era” party, stating “Let’s celebrate what we had and embrace change.”

So if you always wanted to stay in the place immortalized in song, art, and a million stories of those who makes up a large part of the cultural fabric, you're out of least, for now.  Residents are being told little and speculation is high. It was rumored back in April when David Edelstein was interested in buying the spot that tenants would be turned out to make way for high priced condos, turning what was a place for bohemian sanctity, commercial. What does Chetrit have planned? What will happen in the future remains to be seen. [The Race To Buy Hotel Chelsea: A Glance At The Gambit]

[The Chelsea Hotel And The Balazs Revery]

[Go To The Chelsea Hotel Dressed As Bob Dylan]