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.”
“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 Elizaabailey@mac.com.
Comments from the BHB community?