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Inn inching along: Bossert Hotel’s return further delayed as owners search for new operator

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This old inn’s rooms are still being serviced.

The developers restoring the swanky Bossert Hotel yet again postponed its long-awaited reopening, pushing the luxe Brooklyn Heights lodge’s debut to some time this summer while they secure a new operator after their previous candidate packed its bags.

Hotelier Fën Hotels — which runs the Dazzler Brooklyn in America’s Downtown and a handful of other U.S. properties, along with dozens of inns across Latin America — is no longer setting up shop inside the Montague Street property, according to a rep for one of its new owners, who couldn’t elaborate on what firms may take its place or when another will be chosen.

“We’re in the process of picking one,” said Stephen Allen, the man managing the makeover under developer David Bistricer of Clipper Equity, who co-owns the property with real-estate bigwig Joseph Chetrit. “We’re kind of in the middle of negotiations so I can’t really speak to that right now.”

And modernizing the hotel built in 1909 — which sits near Hicks Street, within the Landmarks Preservation Commission–protected Brooklyn Heights Historic District — while preserving its historic feel is simply more time-consuming than anticipated, Allen said, necessitating a new debut date nearly five years after its owners first expected to welcome guests.

“The restoration of the hotel’s architectural grandeur has proved to be a tremendous amount of work,” said Allen. “All the new technology is designed to be hidden, and if it’s not hidden it has to complement the elegant details. It’s just taking longer to do things than management expected.”

Bistricer and Chetrit in 2012 purchased the 280-room Bossert from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which once used the Italian Renaissance–style hotel to house its members, and promised to finish restoring the inn’s pair of grand ballrooms, chandelier-covered lobby, and rooftop restaurant to their former glory by the next year.

But work delays postponed that reopening — along with subsequent ones slated for October 2016, which was nixed in part due to out-of-commission elevators, and September 2017, leaving locals to wonder what’s taking so long.

The president of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association told a crowd of curious residents at the organization’s Wednesday meeting that the latest delay was due to a blaze inside the property, which she said developers most recently hoped to reopen last December before pushing its debut to this summer.

“Apparently there were some fires in the building that affected the timing of inspections and so things have been delayed,” said Martha Bakos Dietz, relaying information she received from the head of the nabe’s business-boosting group, the Montague Street Business Improvement District.

But no flames tore through the hotel, according to Allen, who said tests of its alarm systems may have sparked the rumors. And a Fire Department spokesman confirmed that none of New York’s Bravest rushed to put out an inferno at the property in the last six months.

Contractors are fast at work on the finishing touches to the immaculate inn once known as Kings County’s Waldorf-Astoria — where the Brooklyn Dodgers famously celebrated its 1955 World Series win — according to Allen, who said he hopes the latest setback is the renovation’s last.

“Right now the hotel is nearly finished. I hope there won’t be any further delays,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:24 am, March 7, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
This topic came up at Wednesday's annual Brooklyn Heights Association meeting. The neighborhood is now familiar with the many failed opening dates provided to it.

So this is just business—or lack of it—as usual.
March 2, 11:51 am
ujh from downtown Brooklyn says:
I've suspected for a long time that the developers ran out of money. One doesn't hear anything about their other interests in the downtown area any more.
March 2, 3:59 pm
chosenxxone from out-of-town says:
Rape cover-ups by Jehovah's Witnesses as exposed on NBC Dateline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbKXj8R4_X8
March 3, 2:03 am

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