NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s Hotel Chelsea, the bohemian landmark where poet Dylan Thomas collapsed in a coma before dying in 1953 and where the girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious was fatally stabbed in 1978, is up for sale, its owners announced Tuesday.
Celebrated in songs like Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning” and Nico’s “Chelsea Girl,” the 1883 building has offered short- and long-term shelter to generations of artists and musicians. Notable residents have included Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.
The hotel’s legacy as an artists’ playground could be in doubt after the group of families that has owned it for 65 years decided to sell. They have not named an asking price.
“The hotel will always continue to be a destination for creativity and art, that’s what makes it so special,” shareholder Paul Brounstein said in a statement. “Nothing can ever change that.”
But residents said they are in the dark about the building’s future.
“We have no idea yet,” said Zev Greenfield, a photographer who has lived at the Chelsea since his teenage years in 1974. “The letter that came to us said nothing’s going to happen in the short term.”
The 12-story brick building was completed in 1883 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Boasting wrought-iron balconies and a 12-story staircase, it was the city’s first cooperative apartment complex when it was built but has been a hotel since 1905.
Today it has 125 transient hotel rooms where rates start at $189 a night and 101 residential units.
“It’s a wonderful community,” said Brian Bothwell, a film editor who has lived at the Chelsea for 16 years.
Bothwell said his second-floor apartment was home to musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s and singer-actress Grace Jones in the 1980s.
“Leonard Cohen fans knock on my door and ask to see my apartment,” he said. “They want to see the bedroom.”
Bothwell said residents mix easily with hotel guests like cartoonist R. Crumb, a regular visitor.
“A lot of the people that stay here for a night or two really respect the arts,” Bothwell said.
Singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo was living at the Chelsea during its darkest time, when Vicious was charged with Nancy Spungen’s murder. Vicious, born John Simon Ritchie, died of a heroin overdose months later while out on bail.
“It really kind of changed the whole atmosphere,” Escovedo said by phone from Lexington, Ky., where he was touring. “There was a lot more paranoia.”
Escovedo recalled riding in an elevator at the Chelsea with Vicious, Spungen, writer Quentin Crisp and fashion designer Charles James.
“I just hope it doesn’t become a Starbucks or something,” he said.
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