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Thread: Hotel Chelsea - 222 West 23rd Street - Chelsea - by Hubert, Pirsson and Co.

  1. #1

    Default Hotel Chelsea - 222 West 23rd Street - Chelsea - by Hubert, Pirsson and Co.

    At the Chelsea Hotel, Enter André Balazs

    by Chris Shott Published: August 21, 2007

    Handsome hotel developer André Balazs sure turned a few heads earlier this summer when he was spotted in the lobby of the embattled Chelsea Hotel glad-handing with the venue’s controversial new management regime.

    Almost instantly, the 50-year-old luxury lodging mogul became the subject of widespread speculation:

    Was Mr. Balazs somehow involved in the contentious coup d’état that deposed beloved longtime Chelsea Hotel manager Stanley Bard?

    And, if so, what sort of Balazsian schemes awaited the iconic brick inn?

    Would the famously shabby chic “rest stop for rare individuals” soon be refashioned along the more luxurious lines of Mr. Balazs’s hugely ballyhooed Hollywood retreat, the Chateau Marmont?

    Imagine the bohemian enclave’s irreverent artworks and mismatched furnishings tossed for wicker chairs, Persian rugs, and 24-hour shoeshine service!

    How would the Chelsea’s many resident artists afford the higher rents? Shining shoes?

    “If he’s a smart hotelier, he should change very little,” warned one prototypical artsy hotel tenant during a recent conversation with The Observer. “The hotel is cooler than him. If he’s a smart guy, he’ll realize that or else become some kind of pariah.”

    An even smarter guy might just avoid altogether the messy, contentious situation—described by one eloquent resident as “the real estate equivalent of the military quagmire in Iraq,” given its warring owners and unusual arrangements with its half-tenant, half-transient inhabitant sects.

    With respect to the enduring conflict, the suave Mr. Balazs seems to be sticking to covert operations at present. (He politely declined comment for this story.)

    A co-owner of the Chelsea Hotel emphatically denied his involvement. “André Balazs is not involved in any way with the Chelsea Hotel,” hotel heiress Dr. Marlene Krauss told The Observer.

    At least not yet.

    The hotel’s board of directors has, so far, publicly enlisted only two of Mr. Balazs’ old associates, Richard Born and Ira Drukier, to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business. Mr. Balazs previously partnered with the two BD Hotels honchos in 1997 to open the high-end Mercer hotel in SoHo.

    Despite the persistent rumors of a mini-Mercer reunion at the Chelsea, there is still no official agreement with Mr. Balazs, though sources close to the new management team have confirmed that the trio has engaged in discussions.

    “He’s a friend of BD Hotels,” Dr. Krauss told The Observer in a prior interview. “I’m sure they wanted to hear what he might do [with the hotel].”

    One of three voting members of the hotel’s hotly divided board of directors—who, in the aftermath of Mr. Bard’s controversial June ouster, has emerged as the spokesperson for the building’s new order—Dr. Krauss lately has been brushing off all kinds of rumors about the beleaguered landmark on West 23rd Street.

    Another piece of unverified gossip, propagated by the blog, recently suggested that the entire 12-story building could soon be for sale, with a purported asking price of around $90 million—also denied by Dr. Krauss.

    “The Chelsea Hotel is not for sale,” she told The Observer, echoing her earlier statement, “I have no desire to sell it.”

    Given the hotel’s rigid corporate structure, she might not be able to.

    “It’s a very restrictive corporation,” explained ousted manager Mr. Bard, who remains the company’s majority owner and previously refused to allow a sale, during a recent interview. “They wanted to sell,” he said of rival co-owners and board members Dr. Krauss and David Elder; each one, like Mr. Bard, members of one of the hotel’s founding families. “Because of our restrictions,” he said, “they couldn’t sell.”

    What followed was a contentious arbitration three years ago that ultimately wrested operational control from Mr. Bard’s family for the next seven years.

    His temporary replacements, Mr. Born and Mr. Drukier, now carry some pretty big expectations.

    “They were going to show [the board] that they could make more money, improve the hotel, and prove that the Bard family was not managing in their best interest,” Mr. Bard said.

    Earlier this month, Mr. Born and Mr. Drukier announced that both occupancy and room revenue had already increased after just one month under their control.

    But that says nothing of the far more daunting task ahead in the form of renovations to the building, built in 1883, which Dr. Krauss has said could run as high as $50 million.

    Hence, the potential interest in Mr. Balazs, who may know a thing or two about restoring beloved old buildings to their former glory without offending too many aesthetic sensibilities.

    This is the man, after all, who successfully relaunched the Chateau Marmont to rave reviews. It is no Chelsea Hotel. Instead of wrangling with multiple owners, Mr. Balazs commands ownership of the Los Angeles celebrity hideout himself.

    But the comparison is unavoidable.

    Mr. Balazs himself has often recounted the story of how the late fashion photographer and Chateau Marmont stalwart Helmut Newton warned him to not “**** it up,” ironically as a spring on the old sofa where Mr. Newton was sitting burst from the fabric.

    As the Chelsea’s ancient plumbing creaks and residents groan over looming changes, how much longer before Mr. Balazs officially joins the fray?

    Copyright © 2007 The New York Observer. All rights reserved.

  2. #2


    Balazs the Impresario.

  3. #3


    Chelsea Hotel Celebrates History; Future Uncertain

    by Chris Shott | May 5, 2008

    Linda Troeller
    Bruce Vilanch outside the Chelsea Hotel

    It's been years since the famous Chelsea Hotel opened up its Grand Ballroom. On Friday, the doors will finally be unlocked for an exhibit of more than 100 photographs taken at or inspired by the 125-year-old artistic enclave.

    The show, curated by Chelsea resident and photographer Linda Troeller with the help of hotel co-owner (and rumored interim manager) David Elder, opens May 9 and runs through Sunday, May 11, from noon to 6 p.m.

    The exhibition comes at a pivotal time for the iconic-yet-embattled lodge, which saw its second management shakeup in less than a year last week.

    The New York Post today reports on the ouster of corporate manager BD NY Hotels, which The Observer reported last week. (Expect further details of the shakeup in Wednesday's Observer.)

    Full details on the show (and obligatory namedropping of the hotel's famous inhabitants) are as follows:


    THE CHELSEA HOTEL, a historic landmark hotel and an iconic gathering place for artists in all genres turns 125 years old this year. To celebrate this glamorous outpost of Bohemia, photographers will exhibit their work in homage to this inspirational place where luminaries such as Mark Twain, Madonna, and Martha Graham worked.

    The exhibition will be held in the hotel, located at 222 W 23rd St. It opens Friday, May 9 and runs through Sunday, May 11 from noon to 6pm. (It is the weekend before the first New York Photography Festival.) ³The show will unite colleagues in a celebration of this cultural icon,² says curator Linda Troeller, a longtime resident of the hotel and the author of a recent photo book, Hotel Chelsea Atmosphere: An Artist¹s Memoir.

    David Elder, a Vice President of the hotel, will co-curate the exhibit with Troeller. They have selected editorial, advertising, music, portraits and art projects shot in the hotel. ³The show is meant to capture the hotel¹s unique visual history in this time when a lot of NYC history is vanishing,²Dear says Troeller, an award-winning photographer whose photographs of the Chelsea Hotel were recently published in the NY Times, Flair Magazine, (Italy) and Le Monde 2 (Paris).

    Built in 1884 as the tallest building in New York, the hotel has a famous staircase surrounding 10 floors. While the roster of residents past and present reads like a Who¹s Who in the art world, the magnetic draw reaches further. For many of the hotel¹s illustrious residents, it is about the ability to bring their dreams to fruition. Photographer Ralph Gibson created his first Lustrumbook while living in the hotel in the early 70's; Magnum photographersHenri Cartier Bresson and Inga Morath and Robert Mapplethorpe also lived in the hotel.Whether or not you believe Sid Vicious still haunts the place or if Dylan Thomas fell into his fatal coma after drinking 18 whiskies here, the hotel is filled with dreams and art of several generations, some of which is scattered through the building.

    The community and press are invited to join in the spirit of the creativity the hotel has fostered and wish a happy birthday to the Chelsea Hotel.

    © 2008 Observer Media Group

  4. #4


    The Chelsea, Now Hiring

    But who would want to manage hotel equivalent of ‘the quagmire in Iraq’?

    by Chris Shott | June 10, 2008

    This article was published in the June 16, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

    Nightclub impresario Charles Ferri already runs one bar in the basement of the legendary Chelsea Hotel: His swanky Star Lounge, which opened in 2007, is where modern-day would-be Dennis Hoppers like Josh Hartnett and Zach Braff come to add their contributions to the long list of artistic achievements at the Chelsea, often involving rousing karaoke numbers.

    Now, Mr. Ferri is planning another one at ground level: The Chelsea Hotel Legends Cafe & Bar, according to his Web site, would include a “sidewalk cafe, lobby and back bar,” offering wireless Internet (“for cafe members”) and serving “fine coffees, teas, brews and foods” amid “artwork by legendary Chelsea alumni.” He calls it “Bohemia reborn.” (“Project in planning,” according to the site.)

    Hey, Charles, now that you’ve conquered the basement and have your sights set on the lobby, do you think you can run the rest of the hotel, too? The old Bohemian enclave on West 23rd Street has been without a bona fide manager for weeks.

    “I would love to,” Mr. Ferri said recently, sipping a cranberry cocktail infused with his own signature brand of gluten-free Star Vodka amid the candle-lit gloom of his subterranean lair.

    “Put this on record—if they want me more involved in the hotel, I’ll take over the hotel,” he said, laughing.

    Mr. Ferri was probably kidding. But somebody needs to shepherd this embattled Manhattan landmark into the 21st century.

    And Mr. Ferri might just be as well qualified as anyone to remake the former stomping ground of pop artist Andy Warhol’s entourage. He is, after all, dating the actress Heather Graham, a sort of late-’90s answer to Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick, if you will. On roller skates.

    He also gets along quite famously with David Elder, the hotel’s vice president and part owner. Mr. Ferri even let Mr. Elder crash at his place last month, after one of the Chelsea’s resident pranksters chased the much-maligned executive out of his own hotel one night in a flurry of stink bombs, verbal taunts and water dumped from an upstairs balcony.

    “Charles is a go-getter, man,” Mr. Elder said at the time.

    It’s unclear whether Mr. Ferri is actually in the running. Hotel brass did not return phone calls inquiring about the job search, and rumors continued to circulate throughout the hotel’s hallowed artwork-adorned halls as to who, if anyone, would be brave enough or stupid enough to take the reins of what has become one of the most politically charged pieces of real estate in the city.

    JUNE 15 WILL MARK the one-year anniversary of legendary hotelier Stanley Bard’s controversial ouster as manager after nearly 50 years as the famous face of the iconic inn. Rival co-owners Mr. Elder and Marlene Krauss, who have assumed control of the hotel’s board of directors, then claimed the eccentric septuagenarian, known for making handshake deals and even accepting artwork in lieu of rent, seemed entirely incapable of running the eclectic lodge like a conventional business.

    Yet the young corporate drone hired to replace him didn’t last 10 months amid stiff resistance from many longtime Chelsea residents.

    “I have been physically threatened on several occasions and spit on while performing my job functions at the Hotel,” charged Glennon Travis, the Chelsea’s most recent manager, in a recent court filing.

    Mr. Travis and his bosses, BD NY Hotels moguls Richard Born and Ira Drukier, who were fired in April on charges of default and willful misconduct, are now suing to collect unpaid and disputed incentive fees.

    Subsequent court papers suggest a constant struggle between ownership and management, with the former managers complaining of constant interference by the owners, and the owners complaining about the former managers’ apparent ulterior motives

    Hotel co-owner Mr. Elder, for one, has charged that Mr. Drukier “has made it clear that he wants to buy the hotel,” according to an affidavit.

    “Although the Board has made it equally clear to Mr. Drukier that the hotel is not for sale, his refusal to undertake the renovation program that is so badly needed reflects his unwillingness to do anything that will increase the value of the hotel that he would like to purchase.”

    Mr. Drukier, meanwhile, has contended that ownership has been unwilling to provide adequate funding or even apply for permits necessary to perform much-needed repairs on the ancient brick building, erected in 1883. “[O]ther than cosmetic work, the balance of the work cannot be performed legally,” according to his lawyer.

    BD NY managed to renovate only three rooms in the entire 12-story structure, which is described in court papers as riddled with code violations.

    Adding to the arduous task of refurbishing the run-down infrastructure is the process of vacating the rooms of long-standing Chelsea tenants to make way for more lucrative guest rooms for tourists—a delicate procedure made all the more difficult by the rooms’ varied status under rent-stabilization rules. Dozens of residents are now contesting their rental rates, claiming years of overcharges, dating back to prior management. In the words of one disgruntled tenant, “There are people who are enforcing their rights now, who probably would not have cared if Stanley was still here.”

    FINDING A NEW manager willing to take on such a dubious assignment was tough enough the first time. But now?

    “We wanted somebody who understood New York, who understood [the hotel’s] history, somebody who could really take care of it,” the Chelsea Hotel’s president, Marlene Krauss, told The Observer shortly after hiring Mr. Born and Mr. Drukier to oversee the Chelsea’s proposed reformation last summer. “We must have spoken to six or seven management companies, and at the end of the day, we didn’t go with them. It took us a long time to just sort of decide on BD Hotels and to convince BD Hotels to do it because it is a lot of aggravation.”

    If an acclaimed operator like BD NY, which oversees more than 5,000 hotel rooms citywide, can’t hack it at the Chelsea, then who can?

    Is there anyone else in the boutique business brave enough to take on what one longtime Chelsea tenant so eloquently referred to as “the real-estate equivalent of the quagmire in Iraq”?

    Hotelier André Balazs, who famously refurbished Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, initially seemed very interested in participating in the Chelsea’s makeover, touring the premises alongside Mr. Drukier last summer and telling a reporter from the London newspaper The Independent: “This is an absolutely venerable institution rich in cultural history that lots of passionate people feel strongly about. We will respect that.”

    Mr. Balazs has since backed off: “The owners there are still pointing fingers at each other and sorting things out. It’s way too early for us to get involved.”

    Industry rock star Ian Schrager, widely credited as the pioneer of the boutique boom, pulled off a stunning renovation at the similarly arty Gramercy Park Hotel. But, at the moment, he’s busy designing a whole brand of hotels for Marriott.

    Bowery Hotel operators Sean McPherson and Eric Goode have plenty of their own SRO woes to wrangle with—thank you very much—vacating low-rent rooms to make way for new chic suites at the Hotel Riverview in Greenwich Village.

    And developer Curtis Bashaw doesn’t need to cash in on some fading lodging legacy. He’s building his own hotel called “the Chelsea” in Atlantic City.

    At a May art show celebrating the eclectic enclave’s 125th anniversary, Catherine Klemann, a descendant of original Chelsea architect Philip Huber, echoed the sentiments of many hotel denizens in suggesting that maybe it was time to reinstate Stanley Bard and son David Bard, his heir apparent, as managers.

    “That seems to be what the people who live here want,” she said.

    © 2008 Observer Media Group,

  5. #5
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    East Midtown


    ...the process of vacating the rooms of long-standing Chelsea tenants to make way for more lucrative guest rooms for tourists

  6. #6


    When I first came to NYC I was like 18-19 years old. I was looking for a place and I inquired at the Hotel Chelsea. I was just walking by and popped in. Believe it or not, an apartment was available. It was on the ground floor. A studio .. a big room. It may not have had a kitchen. I can't remember. If I remember correctly, the rent was 300 and something... which was over my budget.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by brianac View Post
    But somebody needs to shepherd this embattled Manhattan landmark into the 21st century.

    So we lose yet another genuine manifestation of another time?

    (... and further enrich Mr. Balazs?)

  8. #8


    Famous Chelsea Hotel Hires Noted Toilet Guru

    by Chris Shott
    12:45 pm

    Chris Shott
    A shinier future at the Chelsea?

    It's potty time at the embattled Chelsea Hotel, where Arnold Tamasar has been hired as the new director of operations, replacing the much maligned former manager, Glennon Travis.

    Chelsea Hotel gossip site Living With Legends notes that Mr. Tamasar is the former assistant director of housekeeping and style at the W New York Times Square Hotel, where he earned accolades from toilet tissue giant Kimberly-Clark for maintaining restrooms with the highest standards of cleanliness and ambiance:
    The restrooms overflow with greenery. There are three tiers of wheat grass, Egyptian green limestone and white oak doors with gingko leaves embedded in the frosted glass. For special occasions such as weddings or wine tastings, the hotel adds an extra touch by providing a restroom attendant to hand out towels.

    His expertise should come in handy at the old Chelsea, where plumbing issues are quite prevalent.

    © 2008 Observer Media Group

  9. #9

    Default The Chelsea lives on!

    At least in England. The Guardian for August 16, 2008, had a long article about raising children at the Chelsea, based on the O'Neil family of two adults and three children. Been there, done that. I lived at the Chelsea in 1969-1971 for two years with my young son and daughter. She was old enough to baby sit for the likes of Viva and other members of the Warhol Factory. I was free-lance writing and taxi driving at the time. The night clerk then, an enormously fat man, RIP, warned me against settling into a rut with the taxi driving as he had settled into a rut as a night clerk. After two years we moved to Vienna but I always stayed at the Chelsea whenever I came back to New York. Stopped by and chatted with Stanley Bard a few months ago. I do hope they don't turn it into just another boutique hotel, like the Royalton and Iroquois, where once we also lived.

  10. #10


    ^^ You must have some great stories to tell.

    If you can find time please tell some of them here.

  11. #11

    Default The Chelsea -- Welfare Hotel

    In late 1969 or early 1970, when the city itself was in great financial trouble, the Chelsea Hotel started admitting homeless people on welfare. I lived there then. It was a disaster. It is impossible to describe how bad conditions became without sounding like some sort of racist, which I am not. The place was crawling with prostitutes. The front desk, once open, had to be fortified. And I don't know about you, but I object to people who don't flush toilets (most Chelsea rooms do not have private toilets, merely a sink. The bathroom was downs the hall) and throw their trash in the halls or out the window. It was a horrible period, thankfully brief.

  12. #12

    Default The Warhol Crowd

    Many of Andy Warhol's people lived at the Chelsea in the late Sixties, early Seventies. As mentioned previously, my daughter baby sat for some of them. One day I was on the elevator with my son, then 14. Viva got on. "That's Viva," I said to my son. "Are you really Viva?" my son asked. "Yes, I'm Viva," she said. "Who are you?" My son sort of melted through the floor of the elevator.

  13. #13


    Cheers, Tears and Ongoing Tensions at the Chelsea Hotel

    by Chris Shott | August 27, 2008

    Linda Troeller.
    The Hotel Chelsea, somewhat out of focus.

    Residents of the illustrious-yet-embattled Chelsea Hotel will get some face time with new manager Andrew Tilley over drinks at El Quijote tonight -- including some of the tenants that Mr. Tilley and the hotel's owners have been trying to evict in recent weeks.

    Meanwhile, tonight, in the hotel's grand ballroom, calling hours are scheduled for Chelsea inhabitant Angela O'Conner, 46, who was found dead late last week in a room on the ninth floor, after neighbors complained of a nasty odor.

    Welcome to the Chelsea, Mr. Tilley!

    It's a precarious position to be in: Since taking the daunting job several weeks ago, the former Hard Rock Hotel frontman has publicly sought to smooth over lingering tensions between longtime Chelsea tenants and the new regime, recently issuing a friendly introduction letter and assuring local paper Chelsea Now of his intention to uphold the iconic inn's artistic legacy.

    Yet, at the same time, he's had to carry on the divisive prior management's tradition of issuing blunt notices of non-payment to resident creatives who, in the past, had been granted great leniency rent-wise. (Some legendarily bartered with artworks.)

    Chelsea Hotel blog Living With Legends this week highlighted the case of Jim Georgiou, 49, a six-year hotel resident and teacher of the self-healing Chinese internal art Xing Xing Shen.

    Mr. Georgiou said he was left virtually incapacitated through the painful process of exorcising his own personal demons over much of the past 10 months, with symptoms best described by Western medicine as "chronic fatigue" -- "It's esoteric, what can I tell you," he explained to this reporter -- and had gotten behind on the rent by more than $17,000, according to court papers.

    Friends recently pitched in to help Mr. Georgiou pay off the debt and settle his case. Ironically, management's petition against Mr. Georgiou actually benefited him through the revelation that his apartment is now registered as rent-stabilized.

    Another resident recently slapped with a late bill of $18,444 has since lawyered up and joined the growing ranks of Chelsea denizens currently pursuing overcharge claims against the hotel. Court papers indicate that fifth-floor Chelsea tenant Olivier French may have overpaid by about $14,800 since 2004 and is now seeking "treble damages" in the amount of $44,400.

    Management also continues to pursue eviction proceedings against terminally ill former rock musician Jann Paxton, whose case has long been stayed by request of his city-appointed guardian.

    Bet none of this stuff ever happened at the Hard Rock!

    © 2008 Observer Media Group,

  14. #14
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    It would be some kind of justice if residents of the Chelsea Hotel were to find out that numerous apartments there are covered under Rent Stabilization and that the seemingly aggressive owner / management has been wrongfully overcharging / wrongfully increasing rents and are thereby liable for fines / penalties due to said tenants.

  15. #15
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Nairobi Hilton


    Generally speaking, legally allowable rent increases for residential hotel inhabitants have been lower than stabilized increases.

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