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On ‘fittingly bleak day,’ Grand Prospect Hall is officially no more

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The ruins of the Grand Prospect Hall after being demolished.
Jim Glaser

Gutted!

The iconic Grand Prospect Hall has been completely demolished, bringing down with it the dreams of countless Brooklynites as new residential units are set to go up in its place.

The Victorian-style banquet hall on Prospect Avenue in Park Slope was built in 1892 and stood for 130 years. It played host to the luxurious shindigs of Brooklyn’s upper crust in the early 20th century before being reborn decades later, as a garish and ornate banquet hall made famous by its new owners, Michael and Alice Halkias, for ubiquitous television commercials where the couple promised to “make your dreams come true.”

Countless Brooklynites had their weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, proms, or other seminal events at the hall.

Jim Glaser, an artist who lives across the Prospect Expressway from the hall, tweeted pictures on Wednesday showing the building’s iconic facade having been demolished. On Friday, he sent pictures to Brooklyn Paper showing the entire building had been completely demolished.

In its place, the developer Angelo Rigas has filed permits to construct a five-story building containing 147 residential units.

The gutted building, prior to full demolition.Jim Glaser

The building had been closed throughout the pandemic after Michael Halkias died from COVID-19 in 2020; last year, Alice Halkias sold the Hall to Rigas for $22.5 million as part of a larger real estate deal encompassing much of the block it sits on.

Brooklyn Paper first reported last August that Rigas intended to demolish the structure. Afterwards, local activists mounted a campaign to get the building designated as a city landmark, which would likely have prevented its demolition. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places but was not a city landmark. While the Landmarks Preservation Commission deliberated, Rigas quickly gutted the building’s historic interior.

The Grand Prospect Hall after the demolition of its historic facade on Feb. 21.Jim Glaser

Despite gaining the support of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city ultimately denied the building its landmark status, owing to changes to its facade throughout the 20th century and the then-recent demolition of its interior. Rigas filed permits with the city earlier this month to build a 5-story apartment building on the site, and despite calls to preserve the historic facade, demolition began soon after.

Glaser and other activists hope that the developer will be amenable to preserving an event space in the new building, but efforts to foster a dialogue with him have so far been unsuccessful. Rigas’ proposed building does not require a rezoning, meaning little if any community input is needed for his plans to proceed.

The former Grand Prospect Hall, which has now been demolished and confined to Brooklynites’ memoriesPhoto by Susan De Vries

“Standing on my roof two blocks away, on this fittingly bleak day, I paused to reflect how Prospect Hall was home to such rich history and deeply personal memories of so many,” Glaser said via email. “As a native New Yorker, today I feel like we have all lost a family member. Rest In Peace, Grand Prospect Hall — 1892-2022.”

Correction (6:19 pm 2/25/22): This story has been updated to note that the Grand Prospect Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, not as a National Historic Landmark.

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