Plan to replace Park Slope’s iconic Grand Prospect Hall hits snag

The new foundation of Park Slope’s former Grand Prospect Hall at 263 Prospect Ave. in December.
Photo by Susan De Vries

After an ultimate-hour storm of protests failed to save Park Slope’s iconic Grand Prospect Hall, the wedding and event hall that had stood for over a century was razed in a jiffy, but the apartment building that will replace it is taking some time.

The foundation has been laid to comply with the deadline to get the 421-a tax break, but nothing has risen above ground level at 263 Prospect Ave. Department of Buildings records show a permit was issued to lay foundations in 2022 to comply with the 421-a deadline.

However, other permits, including a new-building permit for the five-story, 147-unit complex, have not yet been issued. No workers were on site when Brownstoner visited on two occasions.

Meanwhile, the site has racked up complaints from neighbors regarding lighting and debris under the scaffolding, and violations from city agencies including for construction safety. The site’s owner, Gowanus Cubes LLC, has also been hit with multiple lawsuits filed by workers who allege they have been injured by unsafe site conditions.

Photo by Susan De Vries

Plans show the Hill West Architects-designed complex’s 147 apartments will be spread between the ground and the fifth floor. There will be 180 parking spaces in the cellar.

To get the 421-a tax break, 20 to 30 percent of the units will be aimed at households making around 130 percent of Area Median Income if they are rentals. There is no indication of whether the building will be rentals or condos.

A graffiti-covered rendering attached to the site’s construction fence shows the wide, mid-rise building will stretch along a good part of the block and have a glass-covered facade with slim vertical masonry supports or paneling. It has a modern, sleek, and reflective appearance similar to other Hill West-designed structures in Brooklyn. These include the Olympia development in Dumbo, a tower at 123 Linden Boulevard in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Coney Island’s Ocean Drive, a development the architect’s site says is bringing “Miami sophistication” to the boardwalk area.

The new development replaces the famed 1902 Renaissance Revival banquet hall (a rebuild of its 1890s predecessor) that was demolished in 2022Michael and Alice Halkias had owned Grand Prospect Hall for decades, but following Michael’s death during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Alice sold the building for $22.5 million.

A graffiti-covered rendering posted on the construction fence.Photo by Susan De Vries

The new owner, Gowanus Cubes LLC, promptly applied for demolition permits. While locals mounted a campaign to save the building by getting it designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, they were ultimately unsuccessful.

The $22.5 million deed transfer also included a number of other sites around the hall that were owned by the Halkias’ Prospect Hall Realty Inc., including three 19th century townhouses on 16th Street. The houses at 188, 190, and 196 16th Street were all recently demolished to make way for the new development. Plans show the lots, which sit between existing houses on 16th Street, will be used for green space.

Grand Prospect Hall in 2021.Photo by Susan De Vries

Owner and developer Gowanus Cubes LLC is run by brothers Angelo and George Rigas, according to city records. Their father, Gregory Rigas, is behind other Brooklyn projects, including a tower two blocks away at 574 Fourth Ave., the Real Deal reported when Grand Prospect Hall changed hands.

PropertyShark shows the family is tied to dozens of properties across the borough, and appears to be behind ARC Electrical & Mechanical Contractors Corp.

The contracting firm has been awarded city contracts through competitive bidding, but has also faced a number of lawsuits. Gregory Rigas had his master electrician’s license revoked for bribing a public official, court records show.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner.