Brooklyn Boro

Bossert Hotel heads to auction

1955 Dodgers celebrated there

September 13, 2022 Raanan Geberer
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The historic Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague St., once one of the most prestigious of the many hotels that existed in Brooklyn Heights during the early and mid-20th century, is now headed for auction after its owners defaulted on a $112 million mortgage, according to published reports.

A Universal Commercial Code notice published last week confirmed earlier reports, according to Crain’s New York Business. 

In May of this year, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that the 14-story hotel was the object of a “pre-foreclosure” notice filed against the building’s owners, the Chetrit Group.

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According to Pincus Co., a real estate website, at the time, the lawsuit was filed by a “securities lender,” CF Trust 2019-Boss. However, other entities were also involved, including Wells Fargo Bank and Cantor Commercial Lending.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses — who had owned the building since 1988 and had used it as a home for visitors to the religious sect’s former Brooklyn Heights headquarters — sold the building in 2012 for $81 million to Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer of Clipper Equity, according to an Eagle article by Lore Croghan. In 2019, Chetrit bought out former partner Bistricer.

Majestic columns in the Bossert Hotel’s lobby, seen in 2019. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

“Many other hotels in New York City were hurt by the pandemic and either were sold or never reopened,” said Crain’s. However, the Bossert’s troubles began before the COVID-19 pandemic even began.

The Bossert has gone through several incarnations, starting with its construction and opening in 1909 as “a high-class family transit hotel.”

During the 1920s and ’30s, its rooftop nightclub, called the Marine Roof, was a popular gathering place, and radio stations broadcast big bands that played there. The nightclub was closed during World War II due to wartime restrictions.

The hotel also had a longtime association with the Brooklyn Dodgers, several of whom stayed at the Bossert during the baseball season. In 1955, when the team won the World Series for the first time, the team celebrated with a party in the hotel’s Gold Room. Dodgers outfielder and power hitter Duke Snider led a conga line for the occasion.

After Brooklyn Heights declined, at least temporarily, during the 1960s and ’70s, the Jehovah’s Witnesses bought the hotel in 1988 and undertook an extensive renovation. Witnesses and “worldly people” (the term the Witnesses used to describe non-members) alike praised the group’s painstaking renovations. All the while, a small number of “leftover” tenants from the pre-Witness days continued to live at the Bossert.

The renovated Bossert Hotel roof terrace, as seen in 2019. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

The Witnesses sold the building because they were in the process of moving their World Headquarters from Brooklyn to upstate Warwick, N.Y.

Bistricer and Chetrit planned to open the hotel in 2013, but the reopening was postponed on multiple occasions.

In 2019, the Eagle’s Lore Croghan was able to tour the property, which was then in the process of renovation. Many of the hotel’s original features, such as its lobby, chandeliers and the rooftop bar, had been painstakingly restored.  

“At that time, the restoration work looked like it was nearly finished. There was furniture in some of the hotel rooms,” Croghan wrote later that year, after another failed reopening.

Brooklyn Dodgers? Johnny Podres, Duke Snider and Clem Labine, left to right, repeat their confidence during Dodgers? celebration of Victory in the world series in the hotel Bossert, Brooklyn on Oct. 4, 1955. Podres shut out the Yankees, 2-0, to lead the team to their first series championship. AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler

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