What a difference a week makes!
Workers on Sunday tore down the Bossert Hotel’s tattered awning for a spruce-up nine days after the this newspaper reported locals’ frustrations with the eyesore and the slow-going restoration of the once-grand lodge, which will fail to make its latest reopening deadline if the property doesn’t welcome new guests this month.
“We’re restoring the frame, and putting it right back,” the hotel’s property manager Stephen Allen said about the awning. “It will look exactly like the old one.”
And rumors that financial disputes between the Bossert’s new owners — developers David Bistricer of Clipper Equity and Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group — further delayed the project are untrue, according to Bistricer, who said the pair is plugging along on the makeover they first promised would wrap in 2013.
“Ownership is refining and improving the business model, there is no delay as we are polishing the gem until it’s where it should be,” Bistricer said in an e-mail he fired off while overseas.
But the co-owner still refused to comment on whether he and his partner have tapped a new operator to run the hotel after their previously chosen candidate checked out — another hiccup this newspaper broke news of.
“As soon as we are ready to announce I will advise,” Bistricer said.
Earlier this month, a longtime Brooklyn Heights resident alleged there was trouble in paradise among the developer duo — who in 2012 bought the inn on Montague Street within the landmarked Brooklyn Heights Historic District from the Jehovah’s Witnesses — around the same time that Chetrit’s firm reportedly sold its stake in the in-construction 73-story tower rising Downtown at the site of the landmarked Dime Savings Bank near Fulton Mall.
And news that Chetrit’s company divested its shares in the Downtown tower came less than a month after the Fire Department announced it suspected an arsonist set fire to a vacant Red Hook warehouse on Smith Street that the developer owns in June.
Preservationists who pushed the city to landmark the 1886 structure near the Gowanus Canal weeks before it went up in flames later wondered if the Chetrit Group may have been behind the blaze, because some residents glimpsed a person doing possibly illegal work on the warehouse’s roof earlier this summer.
“It occurred after the community raised alarms about recent, potentially illegal construction activity on the roof, and after my office and community leaders took steps to start landmarking the building,” Red Hook Councilman Carlos Menchaca said following the June 14 inferno. “The Chetrit Group has created a local nuisance for many years.”
Chetrit, who a rep said is vacationing out of the country for the rest of the month, did not respond to requests for comment, but Bistricer assured his colleague is a stand-up businessman.
“Joe continues to do extremely well in his dealings, he has been a very good friend and partner for many years. We value each other’s judgment,” he said.