PARK SLOPE — The owner of Grand Prospect Hall has launched a construction project , but it's not the one he'd hoped.
Michael Halkias, whose Grand Prospect Hall is well-known to New Yorkers for its "we make your dreams come true" TV ad, recently started tearing down a crumbling brick building next door to his chandelier-laden reception hall on Prospect and Fifth avenues. He says he was forced to do so after a neighbor complained to the city that the building was unsafe.
But instead of a demolition project, Halkias wishes he were building something new. It's been more than two years since he first floated the idea of building an 11-story 150-room hotel and 400-space parking garage next to Grand Prospect Hall, but Halkias told DNAinfo he hasn't given up on his grand vision.
"Everybody knows we're about making dreams come true — well, how about my dreams?," Halkias said.
With nearly 150,000 square feet of event space and four ballrooms, Grand Prospect Hall does brisk business hosting weddings, receptions and, recently, a massive concert to celebrate the 12th anniversary of DFA Records. Its grand ballroom was built in 1892 as a German opera house and the building retains a French Victorian look, with hand-carved floral garlands and sparkling chandeliers. Some call it elegant or gaudy, to others it's "hideous."
Halkias says he needs the hotel and garage to accommodate the family and friends of his event clients, particularly wedding guests who need a place to stay for the weekend. "I have to be competitive," Halkias said. "To maintain Grand Prospect Hall for posterity, and to maintain momentum and to fight the competition, I have to be a destination."
But his proposed hotel and garage didn't sit well with locals, who said an 11-story building would be too tall for their neighborhood.
Halkias hasn't filed any plans for the hotel, but public records show that he's purchased three of the seven properties behind Grand Prospect Hall on 16th Street, and also owns a driveway that connects his Prospect Avenue property to 16th Street.
He contends that without the hotel, he'll be forced to bring in high-volume events that will eat up parking on local streets.
"They don't want me to build? Then they're going to suffer," Halkias said of his neighbors.