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

The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Updated 12:31 am, February 22, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

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

That's sure to win him friends and supporters from the community. /sarcasm
Feb. 22, 2011, 12:47 am
Jack from Park Slope says:
Why does the community get to control a private business? Especially on a street facing an expposed motorway? I really think that this is a fine example of people sticking their noses into other people's business (and literally business)
Feb. 22, 2011, 7:44 am
Bob from South Slope says:
I remember when Prospect Hall hosted a series of community meetings that promoted contextual development.

Kind of ironic, eh?
Feb. 22, 2011, 10:02 am
VLM from vanlingomungo@gmail.com says:
Jack: Because the development and impact of something this size that's so much larger than anything else in the neighborhood will extend well beyond the one street that it's on. It's common sense and urban development 101.
Feb. 22, 2011, 10:49 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
I hope low income housing ends up on that site. At least it will reduce the number of cars in the area. Which the neighborhood should support. Right?
Feb. 22, 2011, 11:24 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
@Jack,

"Why does the community get to control a private business?"

That's absurd. We're just asking that the current zoning be adhered to.

@common sense,

"I hope low income housing ends up on that site. At least it will reduce the number of cars in the area. Which the neighborhood should support. Right?"

While you imply otherwise, many of us would support increased development of affordable housing in the neighborhood. Park Slope has become largely unaffordable for working families, so sure, let's add some places that middle-class families can afford. We need that a whole lot more than we need a hotel and 400 off-street parking spaces.

BTW, thanks for noticing from down in Bay Ridge.
Feb. 22, 2011, 12:36 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
@Dave: Hopefully, many means a majority. BTW, Bay Ridge is right down the street, it's not exactly Philadelphia.
Feb. 23, 2011, 11:28 am
JAY from PSLOPE says:
well jack its real simple put up a 11 story building, among other things it will block light to other buildings and drive down property values. You wanna sing up for that? Simple enough?
The real lesson here is that you CAN"T just do what you want if it affects other people, that is called the rule of law, something that ALOT of people have forgotten about over the past few years.
Feb. 23, 2011, 10:43 pm
dmoney from south slope says:
this guy seems to be inspired by Khadafi.
Feb. 23, 2011, 10:59 pm
Linda from Park Slope says:
Common Sense

There is an affordable housing complex just around the corner on 5th Ave.
Feb. 24, 2011, 1:43 pm
JIm from South Slope says:
I find it astonishing that the headline uses the term "attack". Is it an attack that the residents of the neighborhood expect him to adhere to the same laws as everyone else in the community? Building an 11-story hotel in an area that is zoned for at most 5-story structures is an "attack" on the neighborhood. Why should he be allowed to flout the laws? That's the real issue here.

And @ Jack: the community doesn't get to "control" a private business; they community just wants the private business to follow the zoning laws. And don't forget, this private business is nestled in a block that is otherwise ALL RESIDENTIAL and NOT 11 stories tall.
Feb. 24, 2011, 5:30 pm
CITIZEN JAY from PSLOPE says:
I would also add the guy says he will bring in low life/class people, and then "clarifies" his statement saying he really means "ethnic" people. What does he mean by that? Does anyone think that sounds a bit racist?
Feb. 24, 2011, 9 pm
Ben from Brooklyn Heights says:
For decades I had used this Prospect hall for Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce luncheons and other community relations activities and the place was excellent offered quality service and I wish the owner good luck -- and I LOVE his comercials on cable TV his lovely wife should be Mrs Brooklyn USA
Feb. 24, 2011, 10:50 pm
Tony V from South Slope says:
This tripe about the parking garage is simply a huge money grab -- a parking garage on 17th Street is not close to the center of the so-called revitalized Fifth Avenue area that it offers any benefits. Numerous buildings along the Union Street / 9th Street area have opened with parking garages. If the hotel cannot make it in accordance with the law, then too bad. Besides, there are new hotels on Union St and along 3rd Avenue that have NO problem complying with height restrictions.

There should be no variances here. They were installed to avoid the greedy from further destroying the neighborhoods. Based on the bill of goods that were sold to us by the real estate interests funding Marty and Bloomie, 4th Avenue has not been improved.

As I have written here before, nothing of the benefits of the new soulless buildings on 4th Avenue have manifested themselves. The avenue is no safer; there is no retail; there is nothing picturesque about the new buildings. This newspaper was complicit in pushing what can only be called tasteless and useless development.

Halkias plays his neutron bomb card that if he does not get what he wants, he will flood the neighborhood with low-lifes. Really? This is the kind of good corporate citizen we want to encourage/reward?

Say No to this greedy, fear-mongering racist who does not want to abide by the rules.
Feb. 25, 2011, 3:16 pm
Rich from South Park Slope says:
While I admire Michael Halkias for the way he restored
Grand Prospect Hall many years ago and wish him well, I think he has always been more than a little arrogant and concerned only with his own success and not with the community. Zoning laws exist to help preserve the character and quality of life in communities. There are always greedy developers trying to get around the law and when too many of them succeed the qualities that make a neigborhood desirable to live in are destroyed.
Mayor Bloomberg has done many good things for the city but politicians and the city departments that serve them have a way of bending the rules for developers or closing their eyes when it come to zoning violations unless there is strong and vocal opposition by community residents
March 17, 2011, 4:36 pm

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