Gene Kaufman, the swankest architect in town, went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday to try and win support for an addition atop the Hotel Chelsea, which Mr. Kaufman is redecorating for mysterious developer Joseph Chetrit. Tenants, who have lodged numerous complaints about the renovations, are especially concerned about a rooftop addition that they fear will become an all-night party spot. It turns out they have some powerful neighbors who agree.
Every local elected official thinks the rooftop addition is a bad idea, and they submitted testimony to the commission saying so. Signed by Congressman Jerry Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the letter (attached in full below) condemns the addition as a bacchanalia waiting to happen.
While we realize the effects of the proposed rooftop addition might have on existing tenants is not entirely within LPC’s purview, the tenants will nevertheless lose the use of the rooftop space and have a wall covering the windows of some apartments. This will result in a tremendous loss of light and air to the existing occupied rooftop apartments. If the proposed rooftop addition becomes an eating or drinking establishment, which seems likely, the noise levels will also have a negative impact on the existing tenants as well as residents in the adjacent buildings.
They don’t find the structure very attractive, either.
The proposed materials of stucco, aluminum, and glass are not contextual with the original façade, the rooftop’s brick masonry, and the slate cladding, all of which will be obstructed or obliterated by this addition. Moreover, the roof’s historic William A. Underhill brick pavers, which are embedded with bronze plaques, would be trampled by this addition. This incongruous structure is an affront to the building’s overall appearance and will be visible from West 24th Street and the east side of Seventh Avenue. There is a clear case that this modification would detract from the historic character and qualities of the building which make it such a prominent landmark.
An affront! Well, lucky for them, the commissioners agreed, according to Curbed. While they found some elements of the renovations to be appropriate and tasteful, even, the cabana up top gave them particular pause. The project has been sent away for more exploration, and likely alterations. It will be curious to see if anything al fresco is approved.