Since we finally got what we wanted from the hotel management, we are going on sabbatical to pursue other projects. As a few of the more perceptive among you surmised, the Bring Back the Bards campaign was nothing more than a carefully constructed ruse. What we really wanted all along was this new sink. Though it’s true that we carried the charade to absurd lengths, we think the effort was well worth it.
For what a sink it is! As you can see, its color is a gleaming, pure white—though they probably had another, more creative, name for it on the box, which we didn’t get to see. The cabinet is made of fiberboard, and the basin appears to have been fashioned from some kind of new-fangled space-age plastic material, obviously an advance on both marble and porcelain. The faucets are chrome—can’t get any better than that. The guy who put it in told us it came from Home Depot: what a wonderful store, to provide such a fine sink!
Our apologies to the hotel management (in its various incarnations) for dogging and haranguing you daily for two straight years without ever telling you what we really wanted. Of course we could have just asked for a new sink to begin with, and I’m sure you would have provided one immediately, but what fun would that have been? -- Ed Hamilton
The Hostile Takeover in a Nutshell -- Feel free to add your own highlights in the comment box!
To refresh your memory check out the June, July & August 2007 Archives.
Bard Family Ouster—On June 17, 2007, Stanley Bard, who owns 58% of the hotel’s shares, was fired as manager by a minority shareholder cabal headed by Marlene Krauss and David Elder. Krauss and Elder had earlier won an arbitration hearing against Stanley in which they alleged that he had mismanaged the hotel, engaged in opaque business practices, and overcompensated himself, among other things. The Chelsea has always been profitable under the Bards (though it is no longer), but in New York’s super-heated real estate climate, Stanley wasn’t generating the short-term windfall that Krauss and Elder desired.
-Media Firestorm—Legends broke the story of Stanley’s firing, and along with other tenants, subsequently worked to disseminate the message to the various print and online media outlets. Though Krauss and Elder had originally fired Stanley outright, the resultant media firestorm caught them and their publicist, Rubenstein, by surprise. As reporters and photographers from the New York Times, the New York Post, and Chelsea Now filled the lobby of the Chelsea, Krauss and Elder backed off, instructing BD to name Stanley “Goodwill Ambassador.” Once there was a lull in media coverage, Stanley was fired again, this time permanently. But media scrutiny of the hotel remains intense to this day.
June 23, 2007 - Tenant Arthur Nash launches hisBring Back the Bards banner campaign.
BD Hotels Reign – June 2007 – May 2008
June 19, 2007 – Richard Born and Ira Drukier step up to the plate.
-New Corporate Restrictions—BD Hotels, with their almost universally despised Director of Operations, Glennon Travis, did their best to clamp down on the freewheeling atmosphere of the Chelsea, ordering residents to clear their belongings from the halls, and prohibiting unaccompanied children and pets the use of the common spaces. At the same time, management was, by design, insulting and unresponsive, refusing to make necessary repairs or to take residents’ concerns seriously.
-Evictions Carried Out—BD hotels carried out a number of “evictions” (most tenants were forced out under the threat of eviction, rather than actually being thrown out onto the street by the police) beginning with retail tenants, who lack rent stabilization, and continuing with early non-payers who had run up debts under Stanley and who were given debt forgiveness and perhaps small buyouts in exchange for vacating their rent stabilized rooms. For many other tenants, BD jacked up their rents to unreasonable levels, often doubling or tripling them. Threatened with a mountain of debt should they lose in court, many of these tenants opted to receive “debt” forgiveness and check out. Employing such methods, BD was able to evict 17 residents by our count. These evictions continued under the next manager, Andrew Tilley, and the number now stands at 20.
-Renovations Attempted—BD began small-scale renovations on the hotel soon after they were hired. The Department of Buildings (DOB) slapped a stop-work order on the building, which took the Hotel several months to get lifted.
-BD Hotels Ouster—on May 5, 2008, Marlene Krauss fired BD hotels. In arbitration papers obtained by Legends, Krauss and Elder claimed that, among other things, BD was not evicting tenants or renovating the hotel quickly enough. BD subsequently filed suit against the hotel, claiming that they were owed almost $500,00 in incentive fees. The litigation is still ongoing. The Chelsea subsequently drifted along for over two months without a manager.
Hotel Enters Lawless Period May 2008 – June 2008
-Assault on Tenant Activist Arthur Nash—in a fearless campaign of resistance, tenant activist Arthur Nash set out to let it be known that minority shareholder David Elder had bilked his own stepfather, author Piri Thomas, out of $1.2 million dollars Thomas was owed from a trust administered by Elder. Nash confronted Elder publicly on a number of occasions, including at an Elder-sponsored art show, humiliating and embarrassing Elder by disseminating this information. Elder struck back by hiring thugs to rough up Nash. In a DHCR harassment hearing, Elder admitted to paying the thugs in cash, and to pointing Nash out to them. The thugs assaulted Nash on two occasions. On the second of these occasion, a 6’5”, 300 lb. bouncer slammed Nash repeatedly into the front desk of the Chelsea, causing him permanent back and arm injury. Litigation is ongoing.
July 2008 Andrew Tilley signs on to be manager
Most Recent Manager Andrew Tilley -- After two months without a manger at the Chelsea Hotel Marlene Krauss finally managed to land Andrew Tilley, who had managed the Paramount/Hard Rock Hotel in Times square. Tilley had absolutely no experience managing or working in a residential building, leading to speculation that—in light of tenant activism and Marlene’s erratic and overbearing leadership—Tilley was the only one who would agree to take the unenviable job.
-Security Guards and Cameras—Tilley hired more unnecessary staff, installed security cameras pointing down every wing of the hotel, and used a staff of security guards (actually hired by David Elder in the wake of the Arthur Nash assault) to intimidate and instill fear and paranoia in hotel guests and residents alike.
-Staff Firings—BD had attempted to fire several union staff members, and Tilley was equally hostile toward union employees and the old guard. Tilley actually managed to fire three trusted, long term employees, one of whom was a union member.
-Illegal Construction In Bob Dylan’s Room—in July of 2008, the hotel filed falsified construction permit applications designed to circumvent the requirement that they obtain a Certificate of No Harassment. Then, in December 2008, workers began illegal demolition of Room 203 and Room 211, the later Bob Dylan’s old room. (Not coincidentally, Arthur Nash’s apartment is situated between these two rooms, and their noisy destruction, which broadcast dust throughout the building, represented the continuing harassment of the outspoken tenant activist.) Legends reported this illegal activity, and The New York Post and Fox 5 news picked up the story. The office of State Senator Tom Duane also became involved. The DOB was summoned, and they found that the “construction” in Dylan’s room—which involved totally gutting the room, including tearing down a wall with sledge hammers— exceeded the scope of the hotel’s permits, which were solely for bathroom and kitchen renovation. They issued a stop work order on the entire building, and when the hotel attempted repeatedly to continue work in defiance of the order, police were forced to threaten management personnel with arrest in order to get them to comply.
-Roof Gardens Threatened—Before his ouster, Andrew Tilley stated his desire to clear the roof of it’s gardens, an integral feature of the hotel since it’s inception in 1884, telling a reporter that he intended to put a bar up there. When it appeared that there would be media scrutiny of this move, the hotel seemingly backed off; and that’s where matter stands at this juncture.
-Tilley Resignation—Citing mockery of his hair and national origin (he’s British) on Legends, and panties and magazine subscriptions sent to his house in New Jersey, Andrew Tilley wisely chose to call it quits. He chose not to mention the reported 20%-30% occupancy rate in his last few months, his failure to evict tenants, and his failure to even begin the renovations he had so proudly touted, none of which would have sat well with Marlene Krauss.
Life After Tilley – February 2009 – June 2009
-75-Year-Old Man Evicted—though Marlene Krauss has stated that she does not intend to appoint a new manager, since Tilley’s resignation Director of Operations Arnold Tamasar has been serving as the de facto head of the hotel. As his first act in this new capacity, he evicted a 75-year-old man from the hotel, prompting protestations of shock and disgust from the police officers who were summoned to escort the man from the building.
Bring Back the Bards Banner Captured -- Though it had hung in one form or another for two years, tenant activist Arthur Nash’s BRING BACK THE BARDS banner was removed from the hotel’s façade at approximately 8:45 this morning (June 5, 2009). Kinda-sorta manager Arnold Tamasar did the honors in person, as a police officer and a security guard stood by.
Later that day, Chelsea Hotel minority shareholder David Elder was served with a multimillion dollar personal injury lawsuit.