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Brooklyn Heights, Landmark Preservation, Real Estate

All-New Bossert Hotel Could Open As Soon As Summer 2013

January 17, 2013

The Bossert Hotel could begin receiving hotel guests at 98 Montague Street as early as this summer, according to a report from the Architect’s Newpaper—as long as construction remains on schedule. That includes preserving the facade, lobby and reception area, updating the rooms with new design finishes and amenities, and restoring the Marine Roof to a restaurant and lounge.

On January 8, the Board of Standards & Appeals unanimously approved a request for variance to change the Certificate of Occupancy for “transient hotel use, accessory hotel use and commercial use,” officially allowing the building to open its doors as a hotel once again.

David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit closed on the 103-year-old, 14-story property, for $81 million in November. Since the 1980s, the building had been owned the Jehovah’s Witnesses and used as a community facility. At the time of purchase, Bistricer said the hotel would remain independent and maintain the name of original developer, lumber mogul Louis Bossert.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Real Estate

Watchtower Sells 67 Remsen Street For $3.25 Million

October 10, 2012

BHB reported in late July that another property in the Jehovah’s Witnesses real estate portfolio had hit the marketplace: the beautiful five-story, 5,088sf residential brownstone at 67 Remsen Street—which ironically backs up to the organization’s recently sold Bossert Hotel. Brownstoner shares that the Brooklyn Heights building has sold for $3.25M, just a shaving from its asking price of $3.4M.

It features 10 units, a private garden and will be delivered vacant, according to David Schechtman of marketing firm Eastern Consolidated. The Real Deal reported in July that the building housed students and volunteers associated with the Watchtower Society. As the Witnesses move forward with a planned relocation upstate, the residences were no longer necessary, he said.

In all, Johovah’s Witnesses’ portfolio included 25 properties in Brooklyn, which they began selling off two years ago. Other recent sales include 183 Columbia Heights, 161 Columbia Heights and 50 Orange Street. (Photos: Chuck Taylor)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights

Residents Of 200 Hicks Street Concerned Bossert Hotel Conversion Will Create Noise, Safety Issues

August 10, 2012

A group of concerned residents who reside at 200 Hicks Street are taking to task the new owners of the Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague Street. Brooklyn Heights rez Elizabeth Bailey and her comrades believe the conversion plan currently before the Bureau of Standard and Appeals could create serious noise, traffic and safety issues in the area.

She writes to the Brooklyn Heights Blog: “Although residents of Brooklyn are happy, mostly, about our borough’s resurgence, or rather, emergence, those of us who live here because it is a quiet, safe place to live and bring up children, are worried that these developers are showing little regard to neighborhood concerns.”

New owners David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit are seeking a variance to convert the hotel to a “commercial transient facility,” from its status as visitor housing for previous owner Jehovah’s Witnesses. The BSA has scheduled a hearing on the application September 11.

The group of residents at 200 Hicks, located at the northwest corner of Montague, say that the plan could deter the Heights’ peaceful persona “if it is done without regard to the nature and character of our residential community.” Bailey points to a New York Times feature on the Bossert from November 2011, in which Brooklyn Heights Association executive director Judy Stanton notes concerns about upkeep, “since Watchtower society placed a premium on maintenance, including the surrounding sidewalks and parks.” Stanton also intimates that the neighborhood may become livelier if the Bossert is converted into a high-end hotel.

Bailey writes, “The developers are proposing to increase the number of rooms from 224 to 302. Although they speak of creating a boutique hotel, over 300 rooms is a pretty big boutique. They also have plans to build a ground floor restaurant, event spaces (weddings and bar mitzvahs, etc.) and a bar on the rooftop. The developers contend that the increase in traffic on the busy corner of Montague and Hicks from their proposed hotel will be negligible.” She finds this “hard to believe.”

“There have been many articles in the New York press about the negative impact of noisy bars—particularly rooftop bars—on residential neighborhoods,” Bailey adds, citing Times’ stories here and here.

“We understand from press reports that both Chetrit and Bistricer have been publicly criticized for various aspects of their past real estate ventures. Among other controversial matters, Chetrit is one of the investors in the Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center, which has been the subject of a three-year battle that a West 62nd Street coop had to wage in the courts over ‘torment’ from the noise from its rooftop bar well after midnight,” Bailey says. “The developers are also involved with the Chelsea Hotel, which has been the subject of recent controversy. Noise and traffic: That’s what Brooklyn Heights residents are worried about.”

The 200 Hicks Street group proposes that restrictions be put in place on the proposed hotel/bar: “The aim is to limit the increase in noise and traffic that would compromise the safety and the character of this neighborhood.” Bailey invites public discourse of the issue, and is available via email at

Comments from the BHB community?

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Real Estate

Newly Listed: Jehovah’s Witnesses’ 10-Story Residential 67 Remsen Street

July 25, 2012

Another Brooklyn Heights property in the Jehovah’s Witnesses real estate portfolio has hit the marketplace. A five-story, 5,088-square-foot residential building at 67 Remsen Street—ironically, abutting the back of organization’s recently sold Bossert Hotel—is asking $3.4M. It features 10 units, a private garden and will be delivered vacant, according to David Schechtman of marketing firm Eastern Consolidated. He adds it could be converted to a single-family home.

The Real Deal reports that the building previously housed students and volunteers associated with the religious group’s Watchtower Society. As the Jehovah’s Witnesses move forward with their planned relocation upstate to Warwick, N.Y., and Patterson, N.Y., the residences were no longer necessary, Schechtman says.

The group’s mammoth portfolio of buildings have been marketed variously by Massey Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield’s Nat Rockett, and now, Eastern. “Engaging a third firm is a sign that the religious group has decided now is the time to divest from their properties,” a source told The Real Deal. The group owned 25 Brooklyn buildings before they began selling them off two years ago.

If left a multi-family dwelling, the net operating income at the building would be about $140,000 a year, documents obtained by The Real Deal show, although “a well-maintained single-family home might be a bigger draw” in the Heights. A 3-bedroom townhouse down the street at 12 College Place recently went into contract for $4.85M, Streeteasy cites.

“Inside of a million [in construction costs], you could easily have one of the nicest townhouses you will ever see,” Schechtman told the newspaper.

(Photos: Chuck Taylor)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, History, Landmark Preservation

If The Bossert Indeed Becomes A Hotel Again, Here’s Your Rooftop View

June 23, 2012

During the Community Board 2 Land Use Committee hearing June 20, the Bossert was approved to return to its status as a hotel (it now goes before the full Board). Among plans that buyer David Bistricer has in mind for the newly “sophisticated and upscale” hotel are a first-class restaurant and intimate dining on the rooftop. The photo above—taken from the roof of 62 Montague Street—offers a vista of the west side showing the immensity of the 14-story Hotel Bossert, as well as the rooftop area (larger image below the jump).

The Bossert at 98 Montague Street was built in 1909 by Brooklyn lumber magnate Louis Bossert as an apartment hotel and, in fact, housed a number of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s. During the 1920s, its Marine Roof offered a two-level restaurant showcasing a consummate view of Manhattan and much of Brooklyn. According to The New York Times, former presidents, mayors, governors and debutantes flocked to the restaurant, designed to look like a two-tiered promenade deck of a ship. In 1949, the Bossert’s rooftop destination closed due to disrepair.

As is well known in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Society began leasing the building in 1983 and bought it five years later. The organization restored the property to Landmarks standards, including the roof, which had collapsed, as well as its ornate 2,500sf lobby, which includes five custom chandeliers and a series of three-story marble columns (which Bistricer maintains he will not touch).

The Times article says that Jehovah’s members who have proselytized or completed international missionary work, have been eligible for up to three nights of accommodations free of charge, three meals included.
Above: The view looking west from on high…
(Photos: Chuck Taylor; lobby: New York Times; lower lobby: BHB)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Hearing Scheduled Wednesday For Bossert Flip Back To Hotel

June 20, 2012

Reminder: A notice has been sent to all residents within 400 square feet of the Bossert Hotel, alerting them to the application filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to allow reconversion to its “original transient hotel use.” The Bossert at 98 Montague Street is currently zoned outside of such a commercial zone. As reported on BHB May 14, following its recent purchase for $90M+, developer David Bistricer intends to turn the former Watchtower-owned Bossert into a 302-unit hotel.

The presentation and Q&A takes place at the Land Use Commity of Community Board 2, today, Wednesday June 20 at 6 p.m. at the Polyechnic Institute, Dibner Library, Room LC 400 at 5 Metrotech Center.

At the meeting, the Land Use committee will review the application and is expected to vote on a formal recommendation to the BSA. Pre-register for the hearing at 718-596-5410, if interested in speaking.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO

Witnesses Peddling Three Undeveloped Parcels In DUMBO

June 5, 2012

It appears that Johovah’s Witnesses don’t just own established properties within the boundaries of Brooklyn Heights. Crain’s and The Real Deal report that the religious group has commissioned Cushman & Wakefield to sniff out a buyer for three adjacent undeveloped lots in nearby DUMBO.

The parcels, at 173 and 177 Front Street—both vacant—and 200 Water Street—currently with a warehouse present—comprise 30,463 square feet that can be built up to 150,000 square feet for residential, commercial or hotel developments. All are between Jay and Bridge streets.

This is the first empty land the Witnesses have brought to the market, including the recently sold Bossert Hotel, 183 Columbia Heights and 161 Columbia Heights.

(Photo: The Real Deal)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web