By Tara Kyle and Patrick Hedlund
MANHATTAN — The Chelsea Hotel — the 128-year-old neighborhood institution once home to Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Jim Morrison and Eugene O'Neill — is up for sale.
The hotel's board decided to unload the landmark West 23rd Street property after decades of owenership by the Chelsea's controlling families, according to a press statement released Tuesday.
"For 65 years our families have dedicated their lives to making the Hotel
Chelsea what it is today, but now it is time to let a new owner, with
perhaps some new innovative ideas and resources, to re-energize and
revitalize the Chelsea," shareholder and hotel board member Paul Brounstein said in the statement.
"The Chelsea remains one of the most iconic hotels in the world, and we will miss the character and tenants of this building."
When it was built in 1883, the 12-story hotel held the title of New York's tallest building and was the city's first co-operative apartment complex.
The property, which was landmarked in 1966 and has housed an array of artists, writers and musicians over the years, currently contains 125 hotel rooms and 101 residential units.
The hotel's minority shareholders ousted longtime manager and majority shareholder Stanley Bard in 2007, leading to years of instability and questions over the ailing building's future.
Bard, who spent 50 years at the hotel's helm, was beloved by residents and earned a reputation for allowing tenants to trade art in lieu of rent.
He claimed Tuesday that he wasn't even aware of the announcement to sell, declining to go into further detail.
"It's not being run the way it was when I was there," said Bard, 76, noting he is "not getting involved anymore" at the Chelsea.
"I hope that the hotel maintains its image as something great in the city and something great internationally, with its mystique in catering to the arts. I hope that whoever buys it feels strongly along those lines."
A person familiar with the plan said that none of the shareholders, including Bard, challenged the decision to sell.
Marlene Krauss, one of the hotel's minority shareholders responsible for firing Bard, declined to comment and referred all questions to the hotel's public relations team.
Five-year resident Arthur Nash, who has publicly feuded with new management while advocating for Bard's return, said he learned of the plan to sell from a note taped to his door Tuesday.
"They said that they were going to start their marketing campaign today," he said.
Another of the hotel's minority shareholders, David Elder — who had taken over day-to-day managing duties at the Chelsea until recently — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since Tuesday's announcement, the hotel's adviser on the sale, Eastdil Secured, has already been "bombarded with calls" from interested buyers, said Loren Riegelhaupt of SDK Knickerbocker, the hotel's publicist.
"There's been a tremendous amount of interest today," he said.
Riegelhaupt explained that hotel shareholder Brounstein would not answer specific questions regarding the planned sale, and referred instead to his statements in the press release.
"Regardless of who owns the hotel, the Chelsea will always be the Chelsea," Brounstein said in the release. "We know that the Chelsea will always be an artistic enclave where the great creative minds of the past, present and future generations come to visit."