by Mathew Katz
CHELSEA — The Hotel Chelsea's new owner has denied plans to build a bar atop the landmark West 23rd Street building as part of a proposed rooftop extension — but documents obtained by DNAinfo show he does want to construct a nightspot there.
In an application to the Department of Buildings submitted in October for a $2.3 million renovation, the architect in charge of the project, Gene Kaufman, asked for permission to build at 150-person "rooftop bar" near at least 10 residents' apartments.
The application was denied by the DOB in November, but hotel owner Joseph Chetrit and his team have challenged that ruling and are attempting to move forward with a proposed rooftop extension, which would require permission from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission.
In the face of vocal concern from residents about the proposal, Community Board 4 voted to ask the commission to deny Chetrit's request for the rooftop extension at a meeting Wednesday night.
It was not immediately clear what rooftop-access rights existing tenants have based on their leases with the hotel. The board asked the LPC to halt any applications for work to the building's exterior until those rights are clarified.
The original proposal called for a 16-foot-high, 3,865-square-foot stucco addition to the building's rooftop, which would sit flush against 10 occupied apartments, blocking off light and air to longtime tenants.
At the Wednesday meeting, Kaufman said his plan for the roof had changed in response to community input.
"We have altered the plan to allow those windows to remain as they are today," he said.
Tenants say they are concerned that having a 150-person hot spot next door could disrupt their lives, as well as block existing roof access.
"The people wouldn't have any windows, air. The light is going to be taken," said Zoe Pappas, who runs a tenants' association at the hotel.
"Some of [the tenants] are rent-controlled, having access to their roof and their own garden as part of their lease, which basically will be gone."
Residents at the neighboring Carteret building have also raised concerns about noise from any possible rooftop bar.
Calls to the Hotel Chelsea's spokesperson were not returned, but Chetrit denied that the extension would become a nightclub at a Community Board 4 Landmarks Committee meeting last month.
"I don't think it will be a discotheque," he said. "It will probably only be a breakfast room or a lunch room."