For decades, the Chelsea Hotel in New York City has been a popular landmark attraction. It is known for housing epic writers and thinkers from Mark Twain to Bob Dylan to Madonna throughout history. Previously, the site was shared by both permanent and temporary residents but now only houses long-term residents who have been protected by rent regulations.
While the Chelsea Hotel is known for housing troubled residents, the hotel itself is now in trouble. The new owner and the remaining 34 permanent residents are now involved in an asbestos litigation suit after a number of health hazards were reported.
During renovations of the iconic hotel, tenants reported dangerous dust and airborne debris present. The owner was then ordered to have asbestos found in the shaft space removed from the site. The residents have been very vocal and angry about the exposure they have had to the asbestos. The president of the Chelsea Hotel Tenant Association stated that there are signs stating the presence of asbestos in the building, which is upsetting the residents.
The building will continue to go through various construction and demolition projects as the renovation proceeds, but a judge has ordered that any ongoing work must comply with strict regulations to protect the residents.
How many people were actually exposed to asbestos is not known. While the current residents were informed of the situation during construction, so many people frequented the historic site that there may have been more people exposed. Besides visitors and residents, employees of the hotel may also have come into contact with the asbestos.
The fact is that asbestos was used widely in everything from insulation to car brakes until the 1980s. It may not be uncommon for older landmarks, such as the Chelsea Hotel, to have asbestos inside. Responsible removal and renovation practices can certainly protect residents, but that may not help those who have already been exposed. If a person is suffering from asbestosis or mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, he or she may want to secure medical and legal help as soon as possible.
Source: NY Daily News, “New owner of historic Chelsea Hotel ordered to clear out asbestos from landmark’s shaft space, tenant leaders say,” Reuven Blau, Jan. 30, 2012