A peek inside the Hotel Chelsea renovation

Oct.October 06, 2011 08:45 AM
The lobby of the Hotel Chelsea as it was (center); the art has now been removed and demolition has begun

The renovation of the Hotel Chelsea has begun in earnest.

In August, a group of investors led by Joseph Chetrit paid $77.8 million for the landmark hotel.

Project architect Gene Kaufman has said the hotel will receive an extensive, but subtle, renovation, with new retail space, an expanded lobby and
possibly another restaurant as part of a major upgrade planned by Chetrit.

As The Real Deal and other publications documented, the new owners of the 12-story
famous hotel at 222 West 23rd Street stopped accepting guests, fired most of its staff, and
removed residents’ colorful artwork from the hallway and lobby walls. A few weeks later,
the New York City Department of Buildings issued a permit for the interior demolition of
existing hotel rooms, ceilings and doors, according to DOB’s website. No change in “use,
egress or occupancy” is allowed, according to the permit, which lists Gene Kaufman as the architect
on the project. The Chelsea’s famous red-brick facade is protected by its landmark status,
but changes to the interior of the building are not limited by those guidelines.

In the past few days, workers have gutted the east wing of the building’s seventh floor, an area once inhabited by novelist William S. Burroughs and actor Ethan Hawke, residents said. A visit by The Real Deal yesterday
revealed that walls, doors and fixtures have been removed, leaving piles of wood and
debris in Their Place.

Kaufman has said he planned to reconfigure the hotel’s variously sized rooms.

“It will be more like a restoration,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Kaufman, known as one of the city’s most prolific
architects, has designed more than 60 New York hotels in the past 20 years. He is usually
associated with chain hotels like the Holiday Inn, but he has also designed boutique
projects, such as Tribeca’s Duane Street Hotel.

Calls to Kaufman were not returned.

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