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For Fifth Ave BID Leader, Parking’s the Whole Point of New South Slope Hotel

12:37 PM EST on January 25, 2011

The owners of the Grand Prospect Hall want to turn the next door parking lot into a 400-space garage and hotel. Photo: Bess Adler/Brooklyn Paper.
The owners of the Grand Prospect Hall want to turn the next door parking lot into a 400-space garage and hotel. Photo: Bess Adler/Brooklyn Paper.

There's a lot not to like about parking in New York City. It deadens urban space. It drives up the cost of housing and doing business. And it's a powerful generator of traffic and congestion.

So why does it keep getting built everywhere? A brewing fight over a proposed hotel at the south end of Park Slope helps explain why. Parking is an obvious sweetener to overcome local opposition to new construction.

Michael Halkias, the owner of the Grand Prospect Hall on Prospect Avenue, wants to build a new 11-story hotel next door to his banquet hall, the Brooklyn Paper reported earlier this month. The area, though, is a mid-rise residential district. Under current zoning, Halkias can't build a hotel and can't build a structure taller than 50 feet, according to the Department of City Planning. In other words, he needs city approvals twice over to build his hotel.

Halkias' strategy to win local support? Build a 400-space garage. At a public meeting about the project, he described the garage as a "magnificent cake" for the neighborhood, with the hotel merely "the cherry on top."

The strategy seems to have won over Irene Lo Re, proprietor of Aunt Suzie's restaurant and the head of the Fifth Avenue BID, who has a history of supporting additional off-street parking in the belief that it will help businesses in walkable Park Slope. The Brooklyn Paper reports that Lo Re gave the garage glowing remarks at the hotel hearing. "We can't turn our back on 400 spaces," she said. Lo Re did not return Streetsblog's request for comment.

Of course, not all the Grand Prospect Hall's neighbors see that much parking as a boon to the neighborhood. "This is a neighborhood that has massive overdevelopment, much of which has lots of off-street parking," said Aaron Brashear of Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights. "For every person that has a car in a parking lot, that's another car on the street."

Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors agreed. "The idea of a 400-car parking garage on Prospect Avenue, entering and exiting on 16th street seems a little crazy," he said. Park Slope Neighbors just concluded a fight to scale down a similarly sized garage proposed for a new Whole Foods supermarket on Brooklyn's Third Avenue.

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