Grand Prospect Hall temporarily spared demolition by court order

The Grand Prospect Hall, before scaffolding went up earlier this week.
Photo by Susan de Vries

The Grand Prospect Hall has been temporarily saved from destruction after a ruling from a Kings County judge on Wednesday.

Neighborhood activists rushing to save the historic hall’s facade got a major win when a judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order on Sept. 1, stating that the building’s new owners cannot demolish it until after a Sept. 16 court date. 

Those leading the charge against the demolition cheered the ruling. 

“I think it’s amazing that we have the time to be able to do what we need,” said 16-year-old activist Solya Spiegel, who launch an online petition against the demolition and put in a formal request for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the case. “I think it’s really good that we can do that, especially since we’ve been doing so much and it finally shows that someone is actually caring and giving us the time to get involved with everyone else and see what we can do about it.”

A spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that the body is reviewing the request by Spiegel and other activists to landmark the building.

“LPC received a request to evaluate Grand Prospect Hall for consideration as a possible individual landmark and it is currently under review,” LPC spokesperson Zodet Negron said in a statement.

The Sept. 16 hearing will focus on whether or not the building’s demolition can move forward while it awaits review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building’s new owner, developer Andrew Rigas, has filed for a full demolition permit for the building, as was first reported by Brooklyn Paper, while activists have launched a last minute campaign to landmark the building’s facade. 

In a petition filed by neighborhood activists Spiegel, Jim Glaser, Julie Spiegel, and Sarah Ferholt, the activists argue that since the building is currently under review by the commission, it should be spared the wrecking ball until a recommendation is made. 

“Petitioners would be irreparably damaged should the demolition of the premises occur prior the Landmark Preservation Commission’s assessment of the application,” the petition reads. “However, respondent will not be harmed by a mere delay in its plans.”

The interior of the hall, which has since been demolished.Photo by Corazon Aguirre

The court order was first reported by Patch.

Attorneys for Rigas argued in an affidavit that since the building has not been formerly calendared for review by the commission, and that since interior demolition permits have already been granted by the Department of Buildings, there is no legal basis to halt the process.

They also pointed out that the historic interior of the building has already been gutted and destroyed. A spokesman for Rigas told Gothamist that this was the state they purchased the building in. 

“As of today, the interior of the premises has been gutted down to the steel column and beams that support the building,” the affidavit reads. “Petitioner’s request is too late.” 

Rigas and his rep could not be reached for further comment by deadline. The Landmarks Preservation Commission also did not immediately return requests for comment.