You know how real-estate moguls are always the bad guys in romantic comedies and children's movies? That's probably because, more often than not, their jobs involve knocking over cool crusty buildings replacing them with condos. Nothing signifies evil in the Disney-verse like condos. Well, it's happening again — the historic Chelsea Hotel in New York stopped accepting guests on Saturday night after being sold to a developer.
The hotel is famous as a hangout for artists and musicians, and may be one of New York's most storied buildings. Nancy Spungen was sharing a room with her boyfriend, Sid Vicious, when she was killed in 1978. Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Robert Crumb, and Leonard Cohen once lived in its rooms or hung out in its lobby. In her recent book, Just Kids, Patti Smith describes how hotel owner Stanley Bard would accept artwork from her and her roommate, Robert Mapplethorpe, instead of rent.
Mr. Bard was forced out by the building's board of directors about four years ago, and after a couple years of rumors and speculation, Joseph Chetrit, a developer, is acquiring the property for around eighty-million dollars, and, though nothing's certain, plans to keep it a hotel. The building itself, built in 1884, is landmarked. However, for many, the change marks the end of an era.
As a tribute, a little Leonard Cohen: