De Blasio supports preserving façade of Grand Prospect Hall

August 31, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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Fate of interior is sealed, but now activists fight for grand exterior

Interior demolition of Park Slope’s fabled Grand Prospect Hall has reportedly begun and the city issued interior demolition permits to new owner Angelo Rigas in July, but local sentiment to save at least part of the hall is mounting, and now Mayor Bill de Blasio has weighed in. 

At a press conference on Monday, de Blasio argued for the preservation of the façade, even if the rest of the building, which isn’t protected by landmarks laws, falls victim to the wrecking ball. 

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“That wonderful family who owned it [the Halkias family], unfortunately lost the patriarch of the family to COVID [in 2020]. And it’s been downhill since then. I think that’s a great question whether the façade could be saved. I certainly would love to see that happen. I’m going to see what the city can do to make that happen. 

“I remember going there for so many community events and it was a place people cherished. You know, it was part of history, and you felt a connection to just all the history of Brooklyn, all the families who have been there before,” said de Blasio, a Park Slope resident himself  “So, it’s real sad. But if there’s a way to save the façade and some of the history, we should certainly try and do that.”

Also on Monday, a demonstration was held in front of the 120-year-old structure, led by 16-year-old Solya Spiegel and local activist Jim Glaser, who lives two blocks from the Hall.

Spiegel and her boyfriend Toby Pannone, 18, started a petition to save the hall after seeing an article about the start of demolition, according to Gothamist. Spiegel told Gothamist that she has been going to the hall for more than 11 years, and has played there several times with a “kids’ band” of which she’s a member. The two of them started Twitter and Instagram accounts to launch the drive. The Twitter page “Save the Grand Prospect Hall” retweeted several photos of Monday’s rally.

Alice Halkias sold the building after Michael Halkias died of COVID. It’s not clear, according to sources, what Rigas (whose limited liability company is called Gowanus Cubes) plans to do with the building. However, he has come to control 12 buildings on Prospect Avenue between Fifth and Sixth avenues, the hall being one of them.

In the recent past, the Grand Prospect Hall was best-known for the TV ads in which owner Michael Halkias, showing off the building’s opulent 19th century interior, proclaimed, “We make your dreams come true!”–>

However, the Grand Prospect Hall was much more than a wedding and banquet hall, and its legacy goes much further back than the era of Halkias and his wife Alice, who bought the then-deteriorating structure in 1981. 

Since it was built in the 1890s, the hall at 263 Prospect Ave. has hosted political club meetings, presidential campaign rallies, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, masquerade balls, theater productions, concerts, movie shoots, and even a basketball team. 

The Edwardian-style building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but never became a landmark.

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