Residents Of 200 Hicks Street Concerned Bossert Hotel Conversion Will Create Noise, Safety Issues

A group of concerned residents who reside at 200 Hicks Street are taking to task the new owners of the Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague Street. Brooklyn Heights rez Elizabeth Bailey and her comrades believe the conversion plan currently before the Bureau of Standard and Appeals could create serious noise, traffic and safety issues in the area.

She writes to the Brooklyn Heights Blog: “Although residents of Brooklyn are happy, mostly, about our borough’s resurgence, or rather, emergence, those of us who live here because it is a quiet, safe place to live and bring up children, are worried that these developers are showing little regard to neighborhood concerns.”

New owners David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit are seeking a variance to convert the hotel to a “commercial transient facility,” from its status as visitor housing for previous owner Jehovah’s Witnesses. The BSA has scheduled a hearing on the application September 11.

The group of residents at 200 Hicks, located at the northwest corner of Montague, say that the plan could deter the Heights’ peaceful persona “if it is done without regard to the nature and character of our residential community.” Bailey points to a New York Times feature on the Bossert from November 2011, in which Brooklyn Heights Association executive director Judy Stanton notes concerns about upkeep, “since Watchtower society placed a premium on maintenance, including the surrounding sidewalks and parks.” Stanton also intimates that the neighborhood may become livelier if the Bossert is converted into a high-end hotel.

Bailey writes, “The developers are proposing to increase the number of rooms from 224 to 302. Although they speak of creating a boutique hotel, over 300 rooms is a pretty big boutique. They also have plans to build a ground floor restaurant, event spaces (weddings and bar mitzvahs, etc.) and a bar on the rooftop. The developers contend that the increase in traffic on the busy corner of Montague and Hicks from their proposed hotel will be negligible.” She finds this “hard to believe.”

“There have been many articles in the New York press about the negative impact of noisy bars—particularly rooftop bars—on residential neighborhoods,” Bailey adds, citing Times’ stories here and here.

“We understand from press reports that both Chetrit and Bistricer have been publicly criticized for various aspects of their past real estate ventures. Among other controversial matters, Chetrit is one of the investors in the Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center, which has been the subject of a three-year battle that a West 62nd Street coop had to wage in the courts over ‘torment’ from the noise from its rooftop bar well after midnight,” Bailey says. “The developers are also involved with the Chelsea Hotel, which has been the subject of recent controversy. Noise and traffic: That’s what Brooklyn Heights residents are worried about.”

The 200 Hicks Street group proposes that restrictions be put in place on the proposed hotel/bar: “The aim is to limit the increase in noise and traffic that would compromise the safety and the character of this neighborhood.” Bailey invites public discourse of the issue, and is available via email at

Comments from the BHB community?

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  • j

    That building is way higher than any other in the vicinity so what noise is anyone going to hear from this rooftop? Montague Street needs some signs of life on it to spark business and enrich the community.

  • HenryLoL

    Ha! Well of course they are against it… But, SORRY, shouldnt of bought a co-op on the corner of a commercial zone if you dont wont a hotel near by. I think most of The Heights are THRILLED with the new hotel and the fact that a rooftop bar will be available for use!

  • Rick

    Yes, the conversion of the Bossert could be a very good thing for Brooklyn Heights.

    Which in no way conflicts with the need to ensure that the development creates as few problems as possible along with all the good it provides.

    As in any such case, the history of the owners behavior with their other hotels/properties should be one of the determining factors in how much credibility their promises should be given in this instance. The fact that a judge in the lawsuit against their Empire Hotel on the Upper West Side has found that their rooftop bar is making too much noise into the early morning hours with live and recorded music is a warning that we might expect more of the same at the Bossert if no restrictions are asked.

    In any such situation, the rights of the owner need to be balanced against the rights of the residential community. Now is the time to reach compromise agreements with the owners about issues that will impact nearby residents, such as how late parties may be held, etc.

  • Heightser

    Is there ANYTHING Judy Stanton is for, other than the status quo and preserving free parking spaces?

  • RemsenRebel

    I agree with HenryLoL. Bring on the rooftop bar, as the views will be amazing! I previously lived in DUMBO for five years and there was concern that the expansion of the Brooklyn Bridge Park would bring too many tourists and bus tours into the nabe along with too much traffic. It did just that, but the benefits for the locals far outweigh the negatives. I think the rooftop bar will be a great hangout for those living in the Heights to enjoy.

  • Mr. Crusty

    They remind me of the people that that bought homes near an airport and then complain about the noise.

    The Bossert Hotel was there long before any of the residents of 200 Hicks Street. If you didn’t want to live next to a hotel you should have found some other place to live. I don’t know why you should be able to impose restrictions on a 100 year old Hotel from operating as a hotel. What are the alternatives? Maybe the residents of 200 Hicks Street should buy it themselves and make it a nice quiet museum.

    @Rick I may be wrong but at the Empire Hotel their rooftop bar is surrounded by other buildings that are at the same level and higher than the lounge where one can imagine the noise might be an issue. But who exactly is going to be disturbed by a lounge on the 16th floor of the Bossert when there are no other buildings of the same height anywhere near it?

  • Rick

    I agree, that will be a really amazing view, and I look forward to seeing it.

    But I haven’t heard Judy Stanton or anyone else say there shouldn’t be a rooftop bar or restaurant, just that concerns about excess noise should be addressed, as well as any hotel-associated traffic issues.

    I think most people in the neighborhood would welcome the Bossert as a well-run and responsible hotel.

  • Rick

    @Mr. Crusty
    The biggest sound concern concerns outdoor decks with no walls to contain sound. Live bands and recorded music both use loudspeakers, I’m sure you’ve experienced how far that music travels.

    If the Bossert has large private parties like the Empire does that continue until 2 or 3 AM, that could be pretty hard on the neighboring residents. I’d think the best time to reach agreeable compromises about such things is early on?

  • Monty

    I draw the line at bar mitzvahs.

  • C.

    Didn’t anybody read the previous post that said the rooftop bar will be private?

  • Rick

    I guess none of us are sure what private will mean. But when I read a little about the situation at the Empire Hotel, I saw that they run the bar on the roof like a club, with someone deciding who can get in and who cannot. I gather they are trying to create an air of exclusivity.

    That, along with them offering the space to private parties seems to meet the definition of being “private”.

  • She’s Crafty

    Montague used to get noisy with Annie’s Blue Moon and Montague Saloon and it was fine. It’s a commercial street. I imagine that construction will be going on during daytime hours so they will just have to learn to deal with it.

  • Promenade Princess

    i’ve never understood the mindset in this neighborhood that peace & quiet are to be protected with an iron fist. isn’t brooklyn heights part of new york city? there’s no gate to keep out the “unwanted,” as far as i can see.

    an OPEN-TO-THE-PUBLIC rooftop space on the top of the bossert sounds like an elegant new go-to destination for the entire community to enjoy… i can’t even understand why it would be made private… i agree with other posters who are excited about the potential for the bossert to again bring glamour and new life to montague. bring it on!

  • Rabbi Schneerson

    Isn’t it obvious that Judy and this Bailey woman are worried that they (and possibly true offspring) won’t be able to get into the exclusive rooftop bar?

    Besides, doesn’t the Heights Casino run events at might all the time — and perform construction work (a new roof most recently) all the time.

    More numbskull NIMBY-ism, if youz ask me.

  • Mr. Crusty

    “Brooklyn Heights rez Elizabeth Bailey and her comrades believe the conversion plan currently before the Bureau of Standard and Appeals could create serious noise, traffic and safety issues in the area.”

    Safety issues. Yes the old stand-by fear of “safety issues”. What nonsense.

    Montague is a commercial street. The Bossert was built as a hotel over a 100 years ago. The residents of 200 Hicks Street moved there knowing those facts and now they want to impose restrictions on the Bossert to operate as a hotel which will be a tremendous benefit to the rest of the community?

    This NIMBYism is really getting out of hand.

    Those that think it would be a great idea that the Bossert be converted to boutique hotel, with a new restauraunt in their beautiful lobby and a rooftop lounge with stunning views of Manhattan that we can all enjoy, make your voices heard.

    As usual it is the naysayers and complainers that get the attention and which just could make the potential owners to say, “the hell with it” and walk away. We would then have an abandoned building that no one wants to touch because of the financial restrictions imposed by the “squeaky wheels”.

  • Bette

    Montague Street and the Heights could really use an elegant bar and for that reason, it will be a shame if the Bossert rooftop bar is private. On the other hand, I understand why it might have to be private for security reasons – letting anyone off the street onto the elevators at a hotel might be an issue for them.

  • Fritz

    Happy for the development of the Bossert.

    Maybe I’m insensitive to the “traffic” argument because I don’t drive. More people in the street makes for more safety, not less. We don’t have enough bars in the neighborhood. Happy to have music from the rooftop.

  • http://GoodForTheNabe! JOHN

    I think the redevelopment of the Bossert will be an asset & I’m looking forward to the rooftop bar with its beautiful views. You should be happy its not a dorm with all the noise like on Clark St.

  • yoohoo

    As was mentioned before, the Empire Hotel at Lincoln Center is surrounded by substantially taller highrises. Hotel operators in Manhattan and Brooklyn have installed roof-top lounges (and swimming pools) featuring eardrum-splitting “music,” which attract thousands of stylish, with-it twenty somethings. As is well-known, sound rises and particularly in the Empire’s case, can’t disperse; that’s why Lincoln Center area residents facing the Empire have a noise problem. In contrast, the Bossert is substantially lower than the building at 200 Hicks Street. The new Bossert owners will determine whether the outdoor rooftop is to function as a “lounge” with or without music, or as a “white-tablecloth” restaurant. It’s the State Liquor Authority, not the Board of Standards and Appeals, that approves the type of liquor licence and what can be served where.

  • Rick

    yoohoo and Mr. Crusty have both expressed the believe that sound emanating from a high place won’t be a problem for those at lower altitudes.

    But commercial aircraft are prohibited from breaking the sound barrier, not because they can’t, but because the noise from sonic booms bothers people on the ground. There are also restrictions on military aircraft for the same reason.

    And closer to home, you might have noticed a bit of discussion regarding noise from above coming from helicopters?

    Sound travels in all directions.

    Also, I’m continually surprised that some posters here attack people for making complaints which are not even being made – complaints that are either non-existent or hardly mentioned at all? Fear of construction noise from the Bossert? Who is complaining about that? People being against the prospect of the Bossert returning to being a well-run hotel? Who is complaining about that? Sometimes I think that a lot of posters here don’t even read earlier posts before posting themselves.

    Another odd tendency is how often people post on this blog about new projects (the hotel, the velodrome, etc.) with their own best-case mental image of how those developments will turn out which often ignore known facts about the project or the track record of the people who are behind it.

    If it were going on today, I’ll bet these same people who love to throw “nimby” around would be decrying as nimbyism and whining the efforts that improved the Robert Moses BQE to include the Promenade. I can just hear the acclaim for the “great man” who “knows better” than the ungrateful naysayers. And the complaints of elitism in Brooklyn Heights to prevent a “world-class” highway for the greater benefit of all. And the charge that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Magical thinking that the rooftop bar will be an elegant lovely venue doesn’t make that future true. Sure, it might be. But the background and business practices of the people behind the venture demonstrates that they use their other rooftop bar to host extremely loud parties on open decks with no containment of sound at 3AM. Two judges have now ruled against them in this matter. They have broken the law to cram so many people into their bar that police had to arrive and order over a hundred more people than are allowed by law to leave. They have a pattern of behavior that does not inspire trust. They break laws. So it is not unreasonable to be concerned.

    I don’t live at 200 Hicks Street and don’t even know anyone who does. I don’t even live close enough to the Bossert to be affected by possible problems. But that doesn’t mean I would give carte blanche to developers with their track records without some assurances of reasonable hours for parties and an effort to contain noise, both of which NYC law already demands.

    Change can be very healthy. I can’t speak for others, but I do agree with those who think Brooklyn Heights is a little stodgy and could use some night life. But it should be implemented in such a way as not to disturb the sleep of those residents who need to get up in the morning and go to work. Or wake up babies.

    Don’t forget that amplified music emanating from an open rooftop deck would affect a lot more buildings and people than just those living at 200 Hicks. And it would radiate in all directions, including toward residential Remsen Street, and beyond.

    Btw, the argument that because the Bossert has been a hotel in the past justifies what is now being planned seems to employ rather inconsistent logic. In the past the Bossert had no access to modern high-volume loudspeakers playing contemporary bass-heavy music on an open deck with no walls. This is a new situation, and needs to be addressed as such.

    And it seems unlikely the only way for the developers to make money is to break noise and capacity laws. I don’t believe they are likely to walk away from this deal just because a few concessions might be negotiated with the community at a time when nothing has been built yet

  • Mr. Crusty

    Well Rick, if the developers of the Bossert plan to break the sound barrier on their rooftop lounge I am all with you.

    You are correct that sound travels in all directions as your helicopter example demonstrates but a helicopter in the sky has a direct line of sight to all those ears on the ground that can pick up those sound waves. There is nothing to interfere and muffle its sound.

    But the sound waves from the roof of the Bossert will not be able to travel unimpeded to the residents of 200 Hicks or any other nearby buildings because they are so much lower than the Bossert. The Bossert building itself is between the source of the sound and the residents. This is quite different than in the cases of the other rooftop lounges that have been discussed where the residents lived in buildings that were of equal and higher heights. I would imagine that would make a significant difference don’t you agree? If it were not so wouldn’t the music disturb their own guests in their 300 rooms directly below?

  • Rick

    Good comeback, Mr Crusty!

    And you raise a good question:
    “wouldn’t the music disturb their own guests in their 300 rooms directly below”
    I have no answer for that, and it is interesting. A cynic might suggest that perhaps they spent more money on soundproofing to protect their guests than their neighbors.

    As for your question regarding sound needing a direct line of site, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a sound engineer who specializes in blocking sounds for recording studios. He told me that sound is like water – it will move in various directions until it finds an entrance. So that even if it traveled in a straight line to the top of a building, it would then travel down that building, even changing directions until it entered, say a crack not facing the actual noise. Like water from a leaky pipe traveling down floor after floor in an apartment building, not in a straight line, but moving wherever gravity and openings allowed it to go. I’m certainly no expert, but I always remembered that comparison.

  • TeddyNYC

    If the developers of the Bossert already have a bad track record with their other properties, then I think the residents of 200 Hicks are justified with their concerns about the potential noise. A lot of people live here for the peace & quiet. Anyone who wants nightlife on Montague to be more than a couple of low-profile bars and some restaurants is living in the wrong neighborhood.

    Bring on the hotel and rooftop bar, just don’t make it miserable for people who need to sleep, cut the music after a certain hour. I think that’s reasonable.

  • Neigh

    Can we not put UWS and Brooklyn Heights in the same sentence? Really no comparison – what matters is that we have a great community here that will be better with a great rooftop bar with an exclusive atmosphere

    Hopefully, it will draw some youth and energy to the hood and some exciting nightlife

    We have plenty of active community groups that can help resolve any issues, whether noise, traffic or otherwise

    All you ever see around here are nay-sayers… change and development is great – let’s manage it well and everyone will benefit

    More business, more economic activity will be great for plenty of local businesses

    You want quiet, construction-less areas with no skaffolds, where nothing changes, I suggest a village upstate near the lakes

    There’s great potential here – let’s support it and manage it well and everyone will be happy

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    I doubt whether you even live here in the Heights or you would have certainly noticed that there is scaffolding everywhere!

  • Mr. Crusty

    Scaffolding? I hadn’t noticed.