Barry Divola’s article on the Chelsea Hotel has just come out in the April 2009 Australian Rolling Stone. Though a bit dated due to the long lead time of the magazine, it’s nevertheless a very balanced, well researched, and revealing read. The most interesting bit of information, given the tragic ongoing destruction of the 125-year-old rooftop gardens, comes from former manager Andrew Tilley, who details his plans for the hotel as he takes Divola on a tour of the building:
. . .from the luggage storage area behind the front desk (“imagine the potential for this as a hotel bar”) to the roof area dotted with random flower beds and mismatched patio furniture (“Look at that view—I’d love a rooftop bar here”).
So there you have it folks, in Tilley’s own words. I’m sure minority shareholder Marlene Krauss is on the phone with Tilley right about now, her eyes bugging out as she screams something unprintable and threatens to take back his bonus for spilling the beans on this.
Tilley also reveals that he thought Marlene was crazy to ask him to manage the Chelsea and that, “If there wasn’t a renovation taking place, I wouldn’t be here.” So this gives us a further clue as to why he left: there was no point in staying if he couldn’t renovate the place. Given this, one wonders why he wasn’t more careful to obtain the permits and the Certificate of No Harassment necessary for legal construction to begin.
“I want to have the residents input and involvement,” Tilley says, “but at the moment they hang paintings wherever they want, and that has to change.” Say goodbye, in other words, to the Chelsea’s famous spirit of freedom and wacky, anything-goes merriment. -- Ed Hamilton
(Note: The article is not available online yet, but Divola express mailed us a copy of the magazine.)