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Bossert sold, will reconvert to 302-room transient hotel

The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold the Bossert Hotel.

David Bistricer, principal of Clipper Equity, confirmed on Wednesday his purchase of the Montague Street landmark from the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.

Through a spokesperson, he told the Eagle that although the closing hasn’t taken place yet, he is proceeding with his Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) application to reconvert the Bossert back to its original transient hotel use.

The sale price was not disclosed.

The restored and immaculately maintained hotel has been in use by the Watchtower for visitors to the organization’s headquarters in the Heights.

“We expect that the closing and the BSA application will be completed before the end of summer,” said Kathleen Cudahy of Connelly McLaughlin and Woloz, Bistricer and Bossert LLC’s spokesperson. “We expect to be open by the end of 2013.”

According to Cudahy, Bistricer plans a 302-room hotel with a decent size restaurant on the first floor where one of the meeting rooms could be used to handle the restaurant’s overflow.

“The lobby is unbelievable and perfect for a restaurant,” she said.

Bistricer also wants to do work on the roof where there once was an elegant two-level restaurant and bar that collapsed.

“He hopes to create a lounge there with a small outdoor space, possibly of 1,200 square feet, where guests could go out and look at the view,” Cudahy said.

The first step in the BSA variance application process, a public hearing before Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee, was scheduled at press time yesterday evening.

A check of Department of Buildings documents revealed a pending application, filed by architect-of-record Gene Kaufman of Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman & Associates, to convert the existing 14-story “community facility/multiple dwelling” building into a hotel.

First reported in the New York Post and on real estate blogs like Brownstoner.com on Tuesday, the news sparked a lot of negative comments because of the housing violations at the Berkshire Capital-owned Flatbush Gardens. But Bistricer, through Cudahy, defended his work at the massive 59-building complex.

“When he took it over in 2005, it had in excess of 15,000 violations. He basically acquired a distressed property,” she said. “Now the total is at 2,690 violations and we expect HPD [Housing Preservation and Development] inspectors to come in shortly and clear up some more.”

Bistricer is determined to make good on all of the violations, according to Cudahy.

“That’s a tremendous improvement since 2005,” she said, adding, “The problems don’t disappear overnight.”

Bistricer’s firm is also known for the successful conversion of the former New York Telephone Company in MetroTech into the successful residential condominium development known as BellTel Lofts.

The broker handling the Bossert transaction is Aaron Jungreis, president of Rosewood Realty Group, according to Cudahy. He could not be reached for comment.

An attempt to reach David Semonian, a spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was also unsuccessful. Last week, he told the Eagle he was not in a position to comment.

As has been reported, the religious group took over the Bossert Hotel in 1983, when it was in a state of disrepair, and renovated it in 1988. It was subsequently turned into a 224-room hotel where Witnesses visiting the organization’s world headquarters would stay.

Although the building was offered for sale — unsuccessfully — in the past, it was reported last November that the religious organization was no longer actively marketing it.

Richard Devine, another official spokesperson for the Watchtower, also said last fall that five residents who lived there before 1983 continue to remain in their apartments.
May 16, 2012 - 3:14pm


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