Saving the dream of Grand Prospect Hall
Grand Prospect Hall, in South Park Slope, Brooklyn, has touched countless lives for over 125 years and is now in the process of being eliminated from our neighborhood and city. Affectionately known as the place where “Dreams Come True” in iconic TV ads, the hall has been etched in the memories of generations of attendees who celebrated family, school, and community based events here. Despite being a monument of Brooklyn’s historical legacy, the new owner is moving quickly to demolish GPH and replace it with unremarkable, market rate housing in the ultimate disrespect to the essence of this hallowed hall.
Since news of this travesty came to light on August 19th, a coalition of neighbors, builders and elected officials have been rallying to this cause where 38,000-plus people have signed the petition to save GPH.
With the knowledge and connections on how to work the system, the new owner moved quickly and quietly during a pandemic election year and already tragically gutted the ornate Victorian interior without the knowledge or input of the community, and now we are fighting to preserve the building’s facade while urging the Department of Buildings to cease issuing further demolition permits so we can seek a negotiated solution with the owner, to the benefit of all.
On September 2, Judge Carl Landicino of Kings County Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction to further destruction of GPH until after the upcoming Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting this Tuesday, September 14. While GPH is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it does not yet have formal Landmark designation and we urgently need assistance from Mayor DeBlasio who publicly announced his support for the cause and others who can advance this cause with the LPC and DOB.
Two letters (linked here, and here) to the Landmarks Preservation Commission have already been sent by Park Slope City Council Member Brad Lander and State Assembly Member Robert Carroll where other elected officials are joining the fight including Public Advocate Jumaane WIlliams, State Assembly Member Jo Ann Simon and neighboring City Council Member Carlos Menchaca. In addition, our coalition includes culturally conscious real estate investors who are eager to work with the new owners and the neighbors to find a better path forward. Considering that this is a large, multi-structure property with much unutilized land, we believe there is a considerable opportunity to preserve this historical legacy and help the owner achieve his business goals.
Suddenly faced with the loss of Grand Prospect Hall, we have scrambled to raise awareness and take action to save what remains of this beloved Brooklyn monument. Considering the critical importance of New York’s cultural sector as we emerge from the pandemic, we must do all we can to prevent GPH’s destruction and that of other important institutions that may befall the same fate. Can we allow Grand Prospect Hall to disappear or do we say NO and consider better options? The original 1892 Grand Prospect Hall was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in 1903 and now we seek to remake GPH for our generation and many generations to come.
Solya Spiegel is the 16 year old who launched the “Save Grand Prospect Hall” Petition drive (38K+ signatories) along with her friend Toby Panone (18). Solya and Toby are part of the Golden Festival Community (Balkan dance music) that held annual events at GPH.
Jim Glaser is the founder of the Kostume Kult (aka the Costume Cultural Society non-profit community group) a large community arts collective and longtime participants in NYC Halloween Parade, Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Burning Man and many other things. Jim lives two blocks from GPH and his group collaborated in the House of Yes Halloween Parties held at GPH.
@savethegph on Twitter.
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