Once known as the “Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn” the Bossert Hotel has not functioned as a hotel since the early 1980s when it was at first leased by, and then later purchased by the Watchtower Bible Society of New York to be used by Jehovah’s witnesses.
The Bossert was built in 1909 by Louis Bossert in the Italian Renaissance Revival-style which was popular at the time. It was built to be an apartment hotel, and had a well-known two-story restaurant on the roof of the 14-story building called the Marine Roof, which had a dramatic and commanding view of Manhattan. The building was also popular with several members of the Brooklyn Dodgers who rented rooms there, and a post-World Series celebration was held there after the Dodger’s clinched the Series in 1955, the only time they won the World Series while still playing in Brooklyn. (They left for Los Angeles in 1957.)
In 2008 there was an unsuccessful attempt to bring students to live in the building, and now in a bid to sell the building the Jehovah’s Witnesses are pushing for a zoning change which would allow the building to once again become an apartment-hotel, making it more appealing to potential buyers.
The Witnesses have been trying to sell the building for a number of years in order to realize their plan to move their operations to Wallkill in upstate New York. In the meantime the 224-room building has been used as a place to live for volunteers of the proselytizing group.
According to unnamed sources several developers have expressed an interest in purchasing the property, and since it is unlikely that the Witnesses themselves are considering entering the hotel business, the push for the zoning change is a first step towards sale of the building to developers who would reestablish the building as an apartment hotel.
“A hotel could be very beneficial for the area, but a lot is going to depend on all the details” said Brigit Pinnell, executive director of the Montague Street Business Improvement District.
The prime location of the Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague Street makes its renovation a potential boon to the neighborhood. Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association Judy Stanton said that a hotel “could improve the economy” in the shopping district of Montague Street.
The proposal is being brought by the Witnesses for a vote to the Board of Standard and Appeal. First however there will be a public hearing by the Community Board 2 to discuss the proposal. The public is invited: tomorrow, May 16, at 5pm at the Metrotech Center.