The Chelsea Hotel closed its doors to guests for the first time in its 127-year history, but the 100 permanent residents of its halls are allowed to stay. Renovations to the lobby, plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems are said to take at least a year, so figure the construction will be over sometime in the next decade. Despite rumors that Chetrit plans to turn the hotel into condominiums, reports from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal assure the public that the hotel’s new owner has no intentions to make the building into anything other than an upgraded hotel. Apparently, the renovations won’t threaten the integrity and charm of the Chelsea Hotel, where artists and musicians like Janis Joplin, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith once roamed.
The hotel’s clientele has helped to build its allure and mythic role in pop culture history. Within its walls, Andy Warhol filmed Chelsea Girls and Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, but no mention of the Chelsea Hotel and its fabled history is complete without the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and his famously obnoxious girlfriend Nancy Spungen, who was found stabbed to death in the first-floor room they inhabited in the 1970s. With luck, any and all changes to the building will preserve its rich history as a relatively ritzy heroin den for nostalgic punk rock fans and artists looking to soak up some of the creativity nurtured in its rooms.