The elusive Joseph Chetrit has closed on his $80 million deal to buy the Chelsea Hotel. According to The Real Deal, he and his representatives finalized things at around 5:30 yesterday afternoon, ending speculation that the deal would fall through and that the Chelsea would survive as it always has for the last century or so: as the craziest inn you could imagine, even by New York standards.
Mr. Chetrit’s plans for the Chelsea remain only partly known (which helped fuel the recent speculation), according to sources familiar with the investor and developer whose portfolio includes the Willis Tower in Chicago and nearly 4.9 million square feet of commercial space in New York City. (The Observer profiled Mr. Chetrit in-depth shortly after he went to contract on the Chelsea.) He does plan to keep it as a hotel—Gene Kaufman, an architect best known for work on chain hotels, has been brought on—though the Chelsea stopped over the weekend taking reservations in anticipation of renovations as well as, some speculated, because of tensions between the workers’ union there and the new owner.
All this means that the Chelsea will likely no longer function as New York City’s most storied crash-pad, cloistering the ghosts of great artists and their ideas—as well as those of a fair amount of just plain freaky people who needed a freaky place to stay under indulgent management. The Chelsea will likely reopen as a straitlaced boutique, the sort that appreciates a good party but one buoyed by dutifully paying customers—the horror!—who probably don’t know the difference between Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas.
The Observer doesn’t know how it feels about this change, though it appreciates the circumstances on both sides of the issue (one side doesn’t want the party to end, the other specializes in, well, investing in desirable commercial real estate).
In the end, at least, the mysterious Mr. Chetrit isn’t turning it into condos.
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