112807Chumley%27s.jpgChumley’s owner Steve Shlopak recently poured his heart out to The Observer, admitting that the former speakeasy is now “just a dirt hole” with only two walls still up! The 1831 West Village landmark was closed in April when a chimney collapsed during repairs on an interior wall. Shlopak went into further disheartening detail:

The rest of the building is held up with construction scaffolding. There is no ceiling and there is no floor... It’s almost as if you’re watching an old World War II film. You know how soldiers would gather in the corner of a bombed-out farmhouse where just two walls are still up? That’s what we’ve got here.

It was previously believed

that Chumley’s would reopen last month, but difficulties with the building’s landlord – Margaret Streicker Porres, one of New York’s 10 worst landlords of ’06 according to The Village Voice – have perpetually delayed renovations, among other problems. Meanwhile the old furnishings, such as photographs and framed book sleeves of authors like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, who were known to frequent Chumley's, have been mothballed.

Shlopak says that if the Buildings Department deems the 19th century building stable enough, work might begin next month. Then maybe Chumley’s could reopen sometime in the spring of 2008, in time for the one-year anniversary of the chimney collapse! He's also trying to gather a group of investors to help him buy the building, which is on the market for $3.75 million. In the meantime, we think Shlopak ought to get together with the long-frustrated owners of Radegast Hall for some beer and sympathy.

Photo of Chumley's interior pre-closing by Chris Hall.