One of the owners, Ira Drukier, said last month that 48 long-term tenants remained. He said the goal was to open rooms on the upper floors in a few months.
“We started from the top down,” he said. “We hope to have 10, 9, 8, 7 in operation before the end of the year.”
Last month the renovations reached the restaurant on the first floor, El Quijote. It will remain closed for several months while workers install support columns in the kitchen, among other things. And the tenants who are living through the renovation come and go through an unstylish vestibule that leads to a lobby that has all the charm of a construction site, although the ornate front desk is a transplant from the hotel’s earlier days.
Mr. Georgiou said he lived in the Chelsea from September 2002 to April 2011. He said he had been a principal in an internet start-up company, living on Chambers Street downtown, and witnessed the Sept. 11 attacks from his apartment. He moved out amid health problems and a financial drain, and ended up at the Chelsea.
“When you move in there,” he said, “without getting ethereal about it, there is a sense of energy in the building.”
There was also what he called its “utopian spirit.” “They were running a business, for sure,” he said, “but there was eccentricity, kookiness, darkness, light, all of it colliding to make it a very interesting place.” That began to change after the longtime manager, Stanley Bard, was ousted in 2007 in a power struggle among the owners.
Mr. Georgiou said he had occupied Room 225, and of course it had a history. “I lived in Bob Dylan’s room,” he said. One of them, anyway. “He lived in three rooms: 211, 215 and 225,” he said.
Mr. Georgiou said he visited the building after renovations began and construction workers were in the corridors. “I said, ‘Do you guys realize what you’re doing here?’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘This is history. I realize the building needs work, but tread lightly.’ One day I asked, ‘What are you doing with this stuff?’ They said, ‘Oh, we’re throwing it away.’ ”
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