Can Coney Island be redeveloped without destroying it?
It’s sure worth a try. Whenever you improve anything, whether it’s an old house or a portion of town, it can’t be the same, it’s going to be changed in some way. I think the jury will be out for probably a generation as to whether or not preserving the theaters and the honky-tonk and the electric giant signs of Times Square will really carry the theater district and Times Square forward, whether it will be a distinctive place or it’s just a Disney-esque version of the same.
So it’s not an easy task. In this case, I think that the Bloomberg administration looks like they’re trying very hard to make sure the opportunity is not lost.
What do you make of the upheaval at the Chelsea Hotel?
I’m one of those romantics that love the Chelsea Hotel. I went there about 25 years ago just to say I spent the night there. I remember the room was fabulous, with this great terrace, and the furniture was like Route 66. Things are always in peril, you know? You can take and renovate the heart out of a place and improve the cash flow, and it just won’t have it anymore. The jury has to be out on that for a while.
What about the Pussycat Lounge on Greenwich Street? Should that place be landmarked?
I’ve been reading that it’s an old building. I haven’t been to the premises; I assume it’s a strip club. But I don’t know whether in truth there is cultural or historical value in the Pussycat Lounge. Maybe if Mae West had been there.