For nearly 40 years, New Yorkers knew the Grand Prospect Hall by one easy phrase: “We make your dreams come true!”
Now, the dreamland could quickly be demolished: The new proprietor of the constructing, an iconic Victorian banquet corridor, has utilized for it to be torn down, public data present.
Purchased by Michael and Alice Halkias in 1981, the Grand Prospect Hall turned well-known for its campy, low-budget tv commercials, which had been set to hovering orchestral music and featured the couple throwing out their arms and making their signature promise. So common had been the advertisements that they had been spoofed by each “Saturday Night Live” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
In its heyday, the ballroom was reworked tons of of instances a 12 months for weddings, proms, bat and bar mitzvahs, and even New York’s first L.G.B.T.Q. comedian e-book conference.
But the venue took a number of main hits throughout the coronavirus pandemic, starting with the constructing’s closure in March 2020, adopted by the loss of life of Mr. Halkias that May from issues of Covid-19.
The constructing was bought in June this 12 months as a part of a $30 million 12-property deal to Angelo Rigas, a contractor, by means of the firm Gowanus Cubes LLC, public data present. Neither Mr. Rigas nor his lawyer, Oded Ben-Ami, responded to a number of requests for remark about their plans for the area. The Brooklyn Paper was the first to report that demolition permits had been filed.
Michael Halkias, pictured right here in 2011, ran the Grand Prospect Hall together with his spouse, Alice, for almost 40 years.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times
New Yorkers who held their weddings, birthday events and different occasions at the Grand Prospect Hall over the years expressed shock and devastation over the constructing’s future demise.
Laura Burns, 52, and Peter Sharoff, 49, selected it as their wedding ceremony venue after attending Ms. Burns’ grandmother’s 95th birthday celebration there. Her grandmother instructed tales of how she and her associates would go to the Grand Prospect Hall in the 1920s and dance into the wee hours.
“You walk inside, and immediately you cannot decide — is this the most wonderful, almost St. Petersburg-like glamour you have ever seen?” Mr. Sharoff stated. “Or is it the most awful, kitschy, tacky place you have ever seen?”
Told by The New York Times about the demolition plans, a number of neighboring enterprise homeowners had been greatly surprised.
“It’s very sad,” stated Ayman Hassan, who owns Park Slope Hardware, which is round the nook on Fifth Avenue. He first met the Halkias household when his enterprise opened in 1995, he stated.
Over the many years that adopted, his retailer bought numerous instruments and provides to the venue, he stated. Whenever he noticed Mr. Halkias, they might catch up and make jokes. In 2016, Mr. Hassan stated, his nephew was married at the Grand Prospect Hall.
“It’s been a neighborhood fixture,” Mr. Hassan stated, “but I think they suffered a lot in the past year.”
Apollo, who manages his household’s dry cleansing enterprise a block away and declined to offer his full identify, stated they used to dry clear the Halkiases’ formal put on. He stated the two households linked over their shared Greek roots when the laundry opened 21 years in the past.
“They should have made that place a landmark,” Apollo stated. “I’m definitely hurt.”
The Grand Prospect Hall was first inbuilt 1892 as a playground for wealthy New Yorkers. Over the years, it reworked right into a Brooklyn icon.Credit…Ángel Franco/The New York Times
Although the constructing was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, it was by no means made an official metropolis landmark, leaving it unprotected from improvement.
Toby Pannone, 18, and his girlfriend, Solya Spiegel, 16, grew up in Brooklyn and attended a variety of occasions at the Grand Prospect Hall, from eighth-grade proms to Balkan music festivals.
After studying about the demolition plans final week, Mr. Pannone stated, they created a petition to avoid wasting the constructing, which has garnered hundreds of signatures, and submitted a request to the metropolis’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to evaluation the constructing.
“Obviously, you can’t preserve everything. You can’t keep the city stagnant, you have to make changes,” Mr. Pannone stated. “But despite being a privately owned venue, it is truly a public and communal space for Brooklyn.”
The Grand Prospect Hall has a protracted historical past in the borough. Built in 1892 by an entrepreneur named John Kolle, it initially served as a playground for wealthy New Yorkers, based on its web site.
In its early incarnation, it had bowling alleys, a billiard room, a capturing gallery and Brooklyn’s first “bird cage” elevator, which allowed passengers to see outdoors. It was additionally Brooklyn’s first absolutely electrified industrial constructing, based on the website.
The venue has since been used to movie motion pictures and TV exhibits like “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the “Twin Peaks” reboot and the authentic “Gossip Girl.”
Mr. and Ms. Halkias had been usually sport to vary up the décor for occasions, permitting patrons to herald as many props as they needed. Ms. Burns and Mr. Sharoff, impressed by the constructing’s opulent inside, had a Venetian-style masked wedding ceremony, full with stilt walkers and fireplace jugglers.
For their retro-style wedding ceremony in 2013, Angie Pontani and Brian Newman introduced in a 20-foot-tall glitter backdrop, a 16-piece massive band and a multi-tier wedding ceremony cake impressed by “The Godfather.”
Before her wedding ceremony, Ms. Pontani, 44, who grew up in New Jersey, solely knew the Grand Prospect Hall from its TV advertisements and had by no means been inside. She and Mr. Newman initially determined to have a look simply as a joke.
As quickly as the tour had ended, she stated, they knew they’d discovered the one. The subsequent step was convincing their associates.
“I had to be like, ‘Listen to me. You are going to go crazy once you walk through those doors and see that marble staircase. You’re going to lose your mind,’” Ms. Pontani stated.
Amy and David Bandler, who had been married there in 1995, had been shocked by their associates’ incredulous reactions once they instructed them about the venue they’d chosen. Though each grew up in New York, neither recalled seeing the advertisements.
“They were all laughing about it like it was a joke,” Ms. Bandler, 53, recalled. “I was like, ‘No, it’s really pretty inside!’”
The Bandlers lived in Park Slope, blocks away from the Grand Prospect Hall, for a few years earlier than transferring to Montclair, N.J. Each time they return, they stated, the dramatic modifications to the neighborhood make them really feel a way of tradition shock.
“It is a shame to see unique and interesting and storied buildings disappear,” Mr. Bandler, 54, stated. “You just see pieces of your history disappearing.”
Ms. Pontani stated she and her husband had at all times deliberate to return to the Grand Prospect Hall and maintain their 25th anniversary social gathering there.
“I can’t imagine the heart of the person who would walk in there and say, ‘I’m going to tear this down,’” she stated. “It’s a loss for the city.”
On a cloudy afternoon this week, the once-boisterous corridor was shuttered, silent and lifeless, with a lot of the inside already ripped up. A letter dated July 2020 approving the constructing’s momentary liquor license nonetheless held on the glass doorways of the entrance entrance.
“The more we take down things like this, the more we lose our own New York history,” Mr. Sharoff stated. “I’m biased. I got married there. But I think it’s unfortunate that we think to move ahead, we have to demolish the past.”