Halkias’s ‘Grand Prospect Hotel’ under attack — but he’s pushing ahead

‘Grand’ threat? Hotel plan includes not-so-subtle warning
Photo by Bess Adler

The developer of a controversial 11-story hotel on Prospect Avenue has a plan, and he’s sticking to it — in spite of a growing chorus of naysayers blasting his scheme as inappropriate for the neighborhood.

More than 200 residents have signed an online petition urging Grand Prospect Hall owner Michael Halkias to shave at more than half the height from his 110-foot building proposal so that it complies with the 50-foot limit imposed in 2005.

But Halkias is having none of it.

“I don’t need anybody to tell me what to do,” he said this week. “It’s unrealistic to ask me to do that.”

The hotel would rise next to the venerable catering hall, located on Prospect Avenue between 15th and 16th streets, and include 400 parking spaces, a percentage of which will be available for the general public — the “cherry” atop a “magnificent cake,” as Halkias has called it.

But critics say the plan is not a just dessert.

“He should build within the confines of the law like everyone else,” charged 16th Street resident Bo Samajopoulos. “I know he wants to build 11-stories, but I want to be a millionaire and I want world peace — I want lots of things, so why should he be any different?”

The petition is the creation of the South Slope Residents Committee, a group formed in opposition to the size of the hotel.

“This will bring more street traffic, noise, more wear and tear on the roads, and more garbage,” said Josephine Fassari, a 16th Street resident.

The garage would occupy five floors below the hotel, and is critical to the plan’s success, Halkias insisted.

“If they want me to get rid of the garage there will be parking asphyxiation, and a six-story building that will serve no one.”

At the first public airing of the project last month, local leaders celebrated the garage, seen as a solution to the congestion brought on by the reemergence of Fifth Avenue, and the development that mushroomed after the 2005 rezoning.

If the plan is scrapped, Halkias warned, he’ll have to bring in a “low-end clientele in large numbers” to make ends meet. He later clarified that he meant “ethic concerts,” such as a recent Balkan festival that brought over 3,000 merrymakers to the catering hall.

No formal plans have been submitted, but they are expected.