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Bossert debacle: No opening in sight for beloved Heights hotel

Checking inn?: The Bossert Hotel’s awning has seen better days.
Brooklyn Paper
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The fate of the still-shuttered Bossert Hotel remains a mystery to locals as another promised opening date will likely come and go this month.

The developers restoring the luxe Montague Street inn, once owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses before firm Clipper Equity and real-estate tycoon Joseph Chetrit scooped it up in 2012, set this summer as the new grand-opening date that neighbors have been waiting nearly five years for.

But it still doesn’t look like anyone will be checking in anytime soon, according to the leader of a local commerce-advocacy group.

“I’m sure that’s not going to happen,” said Kate Chura, the head of the Montague Street Business Improvement District. “I don’t know what’s going on and I’ve tried really hard to find out.”

The vacant suites — except for two longtime rent-stabilized units occupied by oldster tenants — are now just a waste of space in the neighborhood whose shops and restaurants would benefit from an influx of guests, said Chura.

“We would love for the Bossert to be functioning again, it would be a great help for all the merchants,” she said.

A rep for the developers told this newspaper back in March that they were still in talks to secure a new operator after Hotelier Fën Hotels — which runs the Dazzler Brooklyn in America’s Downtown — packed its bags.

But Clipper Equity’s David Bistricer — who with Chetrit plans to modernize the rooms and restore the inn’s grand ballrooms, ornate lobby, and rooftop restaurant to their former glory — has not responded to multiple requests for comment since May about whether he has tapped a new firm to run the lodge.

The hotel’s property manager, Stephen Allen, declined to comment on the delay or status of a new operator, but another local leader believes the developers have been bickering — likely about money — and it’s causing the holdup.

“The partners are in a fight, that’s why it’s not done,” said the gadfly, who asked to remain anonymous and called the hotel an “eyesore.”

The real-estate bigwigs this June renewed their original 2014 permits with the city’s Department of Buildings to convert the 14-story structure — which sits within the Landmarks Preservation Commission–protected Brooklyn Heights Historic District — into a 280-room hotel, and renewed their permit for a temporary certificate of occupancy in July, according to an agency spokesman.

But besides a clandestine rooftop party reported at the hotel near Hicks Street last month, passersby have not seen any work going on inside, and said the owners have been even less receptive to smaller asks from neighborhood, such as a request to fix up the building’s tattered awning, according to Chura and the president of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association.

“It’s a mystery. It’s hard to understand what’s behind this incredibly long delay,” said Peter Bray.

Another local said he isn’t holding his breath for the long-awaited reopening, and that he also doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long.

“If you look back, stories said it’s going to open in 2014, 2015, 2016,” said Andrew Porter. “Think of all the money they’re losing. It’s incredible.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 6:02 pm, August 8, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Old Timer from Brooklyn Heights says:
It would not surprise me if Breaking Ground, an organization that provides housing to homeless persons who are mentally ill, buys the property and creates a long-term shelter there. They just bought a 30-story building at 90 Sands Street for that purpose and are flush with government dollars. Councilperson Levin has been serving as a shill for them and I have no doubt that he would welcome a shelter on Montague Street.
Aug. 3, 8:27 am
Former Brooklyner from Upstate says:
Fighting about money? Maybe the latter from legitimate (?) sources ran out. Could we see it coming when the developer and sundry individuals from elsewhere presented their plan to CB2 and a very skeptical public?
Aug. 4, 12:06 am
Hernandez says:
Be grateful they've not given the building the Chetrit treatment. See E 76th St, grotesque.

Probably they'll just flip the property, like the Sony building... and leave it vacant until they do, like 77 Commercial St. It's called exploitation, in other words pimping.
Aug. 4, 2:09 pm
Hernandez says:
It was just a feasibility study to inflate the property's value.
Aug. 4, 2:18 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Old Timer: The building at Sands Street was an unrenovated JW property, full of little cubicles for their workers. In contrast, many millions have been spent to renovate the Bossert.

Having a second property within a mile of the first for the homeless is never going to happen for many reasons, primarily because this very upscale neighborhood and its elected officials would never stand for it.

I was by the Bossert a few days ago and talked to one of the security people. One of the downsides of having the place still vacant is that the pigeons are roosting on balconies above the entrance, and their poop is starting to pile up on the front of the building.
Aug. 4, 2:59 pm
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
A Homeless Shelter is the best use for the property , it would be a huge benefit for the homeless to call this location their home . Sending the homeless to crime ridden neighborhoods is a crime that the deblazio administration is doing , some of these places I would even park my car at and the deblazio administration is sending families to these cockaroach infested crime infested locations. This location perfectly fits the bill to house the homeless with dignity .
Aug. 5, 9:14 am

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