222 WEST 23RD
Several contributors to a newly-published book promote the idea that interior gutting of Hotel Chelsea -- a hazard to all living things -- began in 2011 at the direction of real estate mogul Joseph Chetrit. But this is pure fiction. The destruction began three years earlier, in mid-2008. And it wasn't Chetrit who illegally sledgehammered the Hotel Chelsea homes of Bob Dylan (below, shot by a tenant), Bob Marley and others. Zoe Pappas and her husband did.
The fabled Chelsea Hotel was home to 120+ full-time Bohemians on the day of Owner-Manager Stanley Bard's dismissal in July 2007. Tenants were quickly mired in eviction proceedings. Nevertheless a savvy and opportunistic few interpreted the hotel's shakeup as an excuse to carry on like the Donner Party. Among them, tenant Zoe Pappas who became an 'architectural consultant' to the Corporate takeover, gutting historic suites including Suite 211 without any safeguards to protect residents.
In Fall 2008, Zoe Pappas' unsafe worksites are exposed through fellow tenants' candid photographs published in the NY press, which implicate her husband's falsified permit applications. Responding to complaints from Pappas' neighbors, inspectors impose hotel-wide Stop Work Orders that halt demolition for two full years. Pappas & Pappas? Out of a job. Now, fast forward to 2011. Zoe Pappas dubiously names herself a "tenant advocate", but who's she kidding? Her subcontractor, a fellow tenant, fell to cancer!
Believe it or not, some folks prefer no one knew about the fate of historic Suite 211. Like "Tenant advocate" Zoe Pappas, who gutted it illegally in '08 yet claims hazards to tenants arrived later. Zoe can't promote how she 'saved' The Chelsea if she wrecked it!
Truth matters! And if a conversation ignores that Pappas exposed 120+ fellow Chelsea tenants (including kids) to hazards like lead & asbestos contamination while she portrays herself as a 'tenant advocate'? Then truth matters more!
Pushback against recent slander of late Chelsea owner Stanley Bard by those who foolishly rewrite a titanic chapter in his saga: when Bard loyalists led a charge to save the 'Old Chelsea', exposing a predatory few who profit from the landmark's strife.
June 2012: Zoe Pappas began accepting tax-deductible charity in the name of Hotel Chelsea tenants, donations believed to exceed $100,000. It was promoted as a "Trust Program For All". Difficulty is not all holdouts knew about it, ate at $150-a-plate galas, or were invited to join a "Tenant Association".
Zoe Pappas spent "For All" funds on lawyers who didn't pretend to represent all tenants. Settlements reached with "For All" funds didn't protect all tenants and, in fact, specifically excluded fellow tenants:
“The tenants who were part of the settlement got the equivalent of 4.7 months free rent,” Pappas told Bedford Bowery [reporter Mary Reinholz in Jan 2014], rattling off a list of accommodations that the attorney for the tenants association had worked out. One of its provisions barred the Chelsea’s new landlord from imposing rent increases on association members. [The landlord] also agreed to pay $100,000 in legal fees racked up from litigation started by her clients late in 2011."
One has to ask: If $100k in legal fees were paid by The Chelsea then where exactly are these charitable donations and why are they not being made available as a resource "For All"?
This issue is being examined by the New York Attorney General's Office. In New York State, IT IS ILLEGAL and unethical to solicit charity in the name of those who don't stand to benefit. The only Chelsea holdouts with access to charitable donations are those whom Zoe Pappas selected.
Something's rotten in Denmark.
And by Denmark, we mean Zoe Pappas.
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Stanley Bard at front desk image © P. Kassner
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