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Grand Prospect Hall denied landmark status

The Grand Prospect Hall, pre-scaffolding.
Photo by Susan De Vries

It’s a dream come true — for the developer. 

The Grand Prospect Hall was denied review for landmark status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Sept. 14, making its imminent demolition all the more likely. 

In a letter to the neighborhood activists campaigning to save the building, the commission stated that the building was not suitable for landmark status, citing extensive changes to its facade throughout the 20th century and the recent demolition of its historic interior. 

“Because of alterations to the exterior and interior of the building, it does not have sufficient historic integrity for consideration as a landmark,” the letter reads. 

It specifically lists the removal of the facades pedimented cornice, the alteration of its frieze above the first story, and the enclosure of its portico as damning alterations that have removed any potential it had to be a landmarked structure. 

The building was recently purchased by developer Angelo Rigas who plans to demolish it and erect a residential development in its place. Rigas has filed for demolition permits that have not yet been granted, as Brooklyn Paper first reported. The building has since been coated in scaffolding. 

For years, the venue on Prospect Avenue near Fifth Avenue was owned by the Halkias family who operated it as an events space, playing host to countless weddings, proms, and celebrations. The family enjoyed a local celebrity status thanks to their constantly-airing low budget commercials featuring the tagline, “we’ll make your dreams come true!”

Michael Halkias died in the summer of 2020 from the coronavirus, and his wife, Alice Halkias, sold the building to Rigas the following year. Rigas has claimed the building’s gilded interior was already demolished when he purchased it. 

The Grand Prospect Hall was designed by architect Ulrich J. Huberty in 1901 and originally served as a banquet hall and social club for the neighborhood’s Eastern European community. Huberty has designed a number of other landmarked buildings in Brooklyn, including the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and the Prospect Park Boathouse.

“It’s definitely not what we wanted,” said Solya Spiegel, one of the teen activists leading the fight to save the building.

Spiegel and her boyfriend, Toby Pannone, submitted the landmark request late last month.

Speaking to Brooklyn Paper Tuesday, Spiegel said they would continue the fight.

“We’re not going to stop — we’ll keep writing people, calling the mayor, calling offices, we’ll keep putting up posters,” she said. “We’ll do whatever we can do get anyone to notice.”

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