Plans for a possible Ace Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn hit a snag this week, as the local Community Board voted against the development. Earlier this year, GFI Capital's Allen Gross, with the help of Spruce Capital, purchased a site at the corner of Bond Street and Schermerhorn Street so that GFI could develop another Ace Hotel (they developed the ultra trendy outpost in Nomad). Permits were filed for the project in July for a 156,985-square-foot structure, which is larger than zoning allows, thus the project's appearance before the community board.
If developed as-of-right, the hotel would have 169 rooms over 107,760 square feet. But the developer is seeking a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to allow a 156,300.68-square-foot building with 285 rooms; this variance is what the committee and community board officially objected to. Prior to Wednesday evening's meeting, the board's land use committee voted against the variance because of concerns over how it would impact the neighborhood, and nearly the entire full board agreed.
Traffic was a major concern as the entrance to the hotel would be situated on Bond Street, which is much quieter than Schermerhorn Street, which is where the entrance to the restaurant and retail on the first floor would be located. The developer did a traffic study and said it wouldn't be a problem, but the board wasn't convinced. It's worth noting that the hotel would not be able to have a basement because it sits right over the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station (A, C, G), and plans do not include parking. They do, however, indicate that the hotel could have a coffee shop, winter garden, and a radio station, in addition to the restaurant and bar.
Several members of the board indicated that they like the idea of a hotel there, but the proposed size and position of the entrance were major concerns. That said, the proposed hotel was what was up for a vote, not an as-of-right building or any other proposal. One member of the board pointed out that, because of that, they were wasting their time discussing anything other than what was up for a vote.
Local community board members aren't elected officials, so they have no official power, but their decisions are carefully considered by city agencies. But should the developers get through all of the bureaucracy and build the hotel they have proposed, a clear message was sent Wednesday evening saying it is not welcome.
—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· Downtown Brooklyn May Be Getting An Ace Hotel [Curbed]
· All Ace Hotel coverage [Curbed]