Since news broke of the sale and demolition of the Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope neighbors have together to save what they can of the historic building; but it seems the last ditch effort came too late.
A spokesperson for the Angelo Rigas, who runs an LLC that bought the building, told Gothamist the historic interior fixtures were already gone when the developers arrived earlier this year, and it is now being converted into apartments.
“We very much appreciate the community’s attachment to the Grand Prospect Hall,” Bill Farrell said.
“After the previous owner was unable to find a buyer for the business, it proved infeasible for it to remain a catering hall and they opted to sell the property outright. The interior fixtures had been removed before current ownership took possession of the site, which is planned to be a low-scale residential building with an affordable component.”
The building, which was first building in 1892, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 described as “probably the largest and best-preserved example of its type… the Victorian assembly hall set within a great ethnic community facility, remaining in the country,” Gothamist reports. However, it was never registered as a landmark in New York City.
In July, after it was sold and plans for its demolition were made public, City Councilmember Brad Lander and Assemblyman Robert Carroll called on the Landmarks Commission to give the landmark designation.
“The 118-year-old building has critical historical, cultural and architectural significance to warrant landmark status,” they wrote.
“For the past 30 years, Michael and Alice Halkias restored, preserved, and invested in Grand Prospect Hall. They resurfaced much of the building’s lost history, including the recovery of paintings that hung in the beer hall decades prior. Their dedication ultimately earned the building its landmark status with the National Register of Historic Places.”
Despite the commission responding last week saying, “the agency will review the material and keep you informed of the process,” scaffolding on the façade of the building shows that process will likely move to slowly to make any difference here.
Michael Halkias, who owned the building with his wife Alice, died in 2020 from complications due to COVID-19, and Alice sold the hall this summer for $22.5 million to Gowanus Cubes, Gothamist reports. The new owner immediately filed for permits to demolish the place, and the Department of Buildings issued an interior demolition permit on July 19.
Since then, a large public outcry has ensued.
A petition to save the building has been signed by more than 8,300 people and it reads:
“This is an obscene development, and if the Department of Buildings chooses to approve this demolition, over a century of Brooklyn history will be gone. Our goal with this petition is to halt the approval of demolition permits while the Landmarks Preservation Commission review the possibility of protecting the Grand Prospect Hall from demolition or major reconstruction.”
Ilan Telmont, one of the co-founders of House Of Yes – which has had a number of events at the hall, told Gothamist the building’s destruction was a “heartbreak.”
“They don’t build buildings like that [anymore] because it doesn’t make financial sense to build such grand structures. It’s a real loss I think, both for the neighborhood and the entire city. In a city that we’re trying to revive, it’s gonna be just another condo,” he said.
“Okay, there’s a lot of them, but this is a true landmark in my mind. I remember the first time I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve seen buildings like that in Europe, but never seen a building like that in New York.’ I’m just very sad to see it go.”
He added that there was “a lot of financial potential for the space [as a] cultural center for Brooklyn,” and he would have been interested in purchasing it himself.
“The cultural beauty of the city is what brings people here, what makes them stay. Without it, what have you got? That’s really the loss… at the end of the day it’s more about what the city is gonna lose by having another boring condo,” he said.
Bill Farrell, the spokesperson for new owner Rigas – who is the president and co-founder of ARC Electrical & Mechanical Contractors Corp – told Gothamist the Polish American war memorial on the grounds of the site would be preserved.
“Ownership is committed to the preservation of the Memorial and we are working with the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York to establish its future location.”
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