One real estate buyer has seen all their dreams come true!
Park Slope’s historic Grand Prospect Hall is being sold as part of a $30 million real estate transaction with several other nearby properties.
The transaction, first reported on Thursday by The Real Deal, who cited business intelligence company PincusCo, will include the nearly 130-year-old banquet hall and 11 other properties on Prospect Ave between Fifth and Sixth avenues, totaling over 73,000 square feet of built space. Grand Prospect Hall, the marquee trophy of the sale, was valued at $22.5 million, and the other 11 parcels sold for a combined $7.5 million.
The buyer, Angelo Rigas, is an electrical contractor who purchased the properties under the limited liability company Gowanus Cubes.
The hall, originally built in 1892, had been owned by husband and wife Michael and Alice Halkias since 1984, who set out to restore the hall to its original grandeur after it fell into disrepair in the 1980s. The two set out to decorate the hall in opulent splendor, ornamenting the space with splendorous items often found at liquidation sales or literally in the trash.
The hall’s television commercials starred the couple, and became iconic for the slogan “We’ll make your dreams come true.” The commercials spawned a parody on Saturday Night Live, and a spoof on Jimmy Kimmel Live with the Halkiases themselves, who appeared with Mets slugger Pete Alonso.
Michael Halkias died from COVID-19 last May, at the age of 82. The hall closed at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and has not reopened since.
“It’s an iconic Brooklyn venue that really has been owned and operated by such a wonderful Brooklyn family for so long,” said Randy Peers, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and a friend of Michael’s. “It was just a tragedy that we lost Michael due to this crazy virus.”
The Grand Prospect Hall building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The hall was the place to be in its heyday in the early twentieth century, with notable guests like Al Capone and Fred Astaire gracing its ballrooms. The building also was the location of the first elevator installed in Brooklyn, which is still in operation to this day.
The establishment has been featured in films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Cotton Club, and hosts countless weddings, bar mitzvahs, proms, sweet sixteens, quinceañeras, and other highfalutin shindigs. Grand Prospect Hall also frequently hosts community gatherings, like community board meetings or local civic association meetings. The hall’s future use under new ownership is uncertain.
“I don’t know what their intentions are, but we’re hoping we can keep the building, maybe it can be used for something positive,” said Mark Caserta, executive director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, which has held its annual “Taste of Fifth” event at the hall for years. “Maybe events and concerts, and if they want to build around it. But that’s not really up to us.”
Peers said he is hopeful that Rigas, as a local business owner, will be mindful of the venue’s place in Brooklyn history, and would even be happy to meet with him and give advice. But, he says, the loss of the hall in a redevelopment scheme would be devastating for the borough if it were to come to that.
“If the intention is to turn it into luxury residential development with no other commercial benefits or affordable housing benefits, then it’s probably not going to be a good thing,” Peers said. “But we certainly have an open mind, and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce would be happy to have a briefing from the new owner as to his intentions.”
“Losing such an iconic venue that has been such a storied part of Brooklyn history and many Brooklynites’ personal history — just think about the countless generations of folks who have gotten married there, had sweet sixteens there, other life events — it’s a sad thing on a personal level,” Peers continued.
The Halkiases proposed building an 11-story hotel next to the hall a decade ago, a vision which never came to fruition in the wake of community opposition. Michael Halkias told Gothamist in 2015 that he received inquiries on a daily basis from developers interested in the property.
Rigas was not available for comment, and Alice Halkias could not be reached for comment. A phone call to the hall’s listed number, featured on its beloved commercials, was met with a message that the number had been disconnected, and the hall’s website appears to be down.