Bossert Hotel’s fate rests with BSA on Jan. 8

November 30, 2012 Linda Collins The Daily Eagle
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In its ongoing consideration of the controversial conversion of the Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn Heights back to its original transient hotel status, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) has asked for papers from both the development team and its opponents.

The opposition group is comprised primarily of the Brooklyn Heights Association and residents of the adjacent residential building at 200 Hicks St.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, the BSA closed the public hearing and set Tuesday, Jan. 8, for announcing its decision, according to Jeffrey Mulligan, executive director of the BSA.

The final paper or statement from the development team is due by Tuesday, Dec. 11, according to Kathleen Cudahy, a spokesperson for the developer, Clipper Equity, now operating as Bossert LLC. This allows the residents group a week to study it and submit their own paper by Tuesday, Dec. 18.

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Cudahy said the remaining issues are the amplification of music in the rooftop lounge, the hours of operation for the rooftop lounge and the maximum occupancy for the ground-floor restaurant.

As the Eagle has reported previously, the new owners — in response to the residents’ urging — agreed to restrict the operating hours and music levels of the outdoor rooftop terrace bar and to reduce the proposed number of hotel rooms from 302 to 280.

“We have agreed to the prohibition of all outside music on the terrace. We have agreed to limit the number of people to 60 outside and to closing at 10 p.m.,” Michael Sillerman, a spokesperson, said at an earlier hearing.

But despite having agreed to these conditions, both the residents and the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) were not satisfied.

A resident who attended Tuesday’s hearing, noting that the developer has agreed to no amplification and no sound system outside, told the Eagle yesterday that the remaining issue is whether the BSA will permit any music amplification in the indoor rooftop restaurant.

“The BHA argued yesterday against any music amplification in the indoor rooftop restaurant,” he said.

Additionally, noting that the developer has agreed to closing the outdoor terrace at 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on weekends) except for New Year’s Eve, told the Eagle, “I think the BSA is considering applying the 10 p.m. curfew across the board.

“With respect to the indoor restaurant on the rooftop, the developer has urged the BSA to permit a much later curfew,” he said.

This was confirmed by Cudahy.

“It is a hotel. Obvious we’d like it to be a midnight closing for people coming in late who may want to grab something to eat,” she said.

“And we’d like the maximum occupancy for the ground-floor restaurant to be what is legally allowed,” she added.

That number is 240 “as of right” for the main room and 284 — not as of right but” legally possible” — for the second overflow room, according to Cudahy.

The residents group has additionally asked the BSA to allow their own acoustical expert to inspect the premises in conjunction with the developer’s expert to consider all possible sound abatement measures.

And the group has asked that the developer’s written commitment that the hotel will not be used as a catering hall or event space be included as a restriction in the final approved variance.

Additionally, the BHA remains unchanged in its opposition to increasing the number of rooms to more than the 224 created by the former owners, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.

“The BHA has continually said that we support the concept of a transient hotel…but the developer has to demonstrate why the hotel will not alter the character of Brooklyn Heights,” said Judy Stanton, BHA executive director. “Intense traffic and excessive noise would pose a problem for the Heights and the BHA’s job is to bring this to the BSA’s attention so that the BSA resolution granting the variance includes provisions to limit noise and excessive traffic.

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