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New Gowanus hotel already at war with rivals - Brooklyn Paper

New Gowanus hotel already at war with rivals

Here’s what the owners hope the Union Hotel will look like.

So much for hospitality.

A brash Brooklyn-bred newcomer to the borough’s burgeoning hotel scene is already calling out rivals, boasting that his soon-to-open Gowanus establishment could put one competitor — Hotel Le Bleu — in the red.

Thirty-year-old Bensonhurst-native Alec Shtromandel says his Union Hotel on Degraw Street between Third and Fourth avenues will be the crown jewel in a narrowly defined market place.

“We are a design oriented boutique hotel geared toward budget travelers,” he said.

The nearest boutique competitor is Hotel Le Bleu on Fourth Avenue near Fifth Street.

“Design-wise, there is a lot to be desired there,” Shtromandel sniffed. “We have beautiful reclaimed artisanal brick and art deco finishes. We are smaller, but nevertheless there is a personal touch that Le Bleu seems to be lacking.”

Le Bleu officials rebuffed the salvo.

“I’m not sure he can judge us without knowing anything about us,” said general manager John Tichacek. “Our hotel stands above them [our competitors] because we have a nicer product and Manhattan views.”

The neighborhood’s hotel scene was booming when we first reported about Union’s arrival.

Cheaper land that does not require costly zoning changes is attributed to the hotel frenzy.

Photo by Noah Devereaux

Aside from its proximity to Hotel Le Bleu, Union Hotel will be near a Holiday Inn Express on Union Street and Fourth Avenue, Comfort Inn on Butler Street at Nevins Street, and a soon-to-open Fairfield Inn at Third Avenue and Douglass Street. And three more are expected to rise on President Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

Shtromandel said Gowanus is appealing because it sits at the nexus of several borough hot spots, including Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Fort Greene.

And Union has proximity to the Barclays Center basketball arena and Atlantic Yards development — now a selling point for prospective hotels.

“That is definitely a factor,” Shtromandel said. “We are five blocks away from Atlantic Yards, and at some point there will be a lot of new housing, and the arena in 2012 will drive a lot of traffic to the hotel.”

Of course, Shtromandel concedes that NBA players won’t likely be waiting for game time in his 43-room, four story hotel, where rates will range between $129 and $200 a night.

“The rooms are not spacious enough for an NBA player,” he said.

The hotel is expected to open by mid- to late April. A rooftop beer garden featuring local spirits is expected to open by the summer.

Its website touts a vast array of area attractions — some as far away as Queens — but nary a mention is made of the neighborhood’s eponymous canal — one of the most-polluted waterways in the country — is nowhere in sight.

And that’s no mistake.

“A canal that has nothing going for is not an attraction,” Shtromandel said. “Even if it wasn’t a Superfund site, I wouldn’t put it down as an attraction.”

Alec Shtromandel says his Union Hotel on Degraw Street between Third and Fourth avenues — still under construction — will be the crown jewel in Gowanus.
Photo by Noah Devereaux

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