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Bossert Hotel Brooklyn Heights

She’s 82, has lived in the Bossert Hotel for four decades, and wants to stay there

The Brooklyn Paper

An 82-year-old widow who lives in a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn Heights’ ritzy Bossert Hotel is preparing for the fight of her life now that the landmarked building has been sold.

Monica Grier raised a family in the three-bedroom apartment that she rents for less than $1,000-a-month. She moved there in the late 1960s when the hotel, once considered the Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn and the place where the Brooklyn Dodgers celebrated their 1955 World Series championship, had become a home to transients.

Now, she’s lawyered-up because she fears new ownership — which is planning to return the well-maintained property to its glorious hotel past — will try to force her out.

“When they go altering things, there are a number of things that can go wrong,” said Grier. “You always wonder what is it, and I didn’t want to wait and see.”

But an attorney for the new ownership, Clipper Equity and the Chetrit Group, said Grier and the three other tenants that live in the building have nothing to worry about.

“The owner recognizes there are four protected tenants who live in the building and their rights will be fully protected,” said Michael Sillerman, who added that he hadn’t heard Grier had hired a lawyer.

But Grier’s attorney, Richard Klass, hinted that landlords will sometimes make life difficult on tenants with guaranteed low rents in hopes of forcing them out — and he wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to his client.

“Our concern is that they maintain the property and all the systems as they have in the past and continue to recognize their tenancy,” said Klass, Grier’s. “Whatever repairs or alterations are done to the structure, we want to make sure the inconveniences are kept to a minimum.”

The developers purchased the building this summer and announced plans to turn it into an elegant 302-room hotel with a “neighborhood feel.” They expect the rooms to rent for about $250 a night.

The hotel, which sits on the corner of Montague and Hicks streets, was built in 1909 by lumber magnate Louis Bossert.

It was purchased by the Watchtower Bible and Tract society in 1988. That group, the corporation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses for its business purposes, meticulously renovated the building as it used it as a space to house staff.

Grier moved in with her husband George 43 years ago, when the building was a much less fancy place where tenants were outnumbered by “guests.”

“Mostly, the four corners were apartments and a lot of the rest of the building was transients,” she said in her charming English accent.

Back then, it was much easier — and cheaper — to find a place in the building, and Grier and her husband even let one of her apartment go during a summer in Great Britain.

“When we came back, there was a woman we knew who had an apartment we liked, so we waited for her to be gone and then we took it,” she said.

And she’s lived there ever since.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfuaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511.

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Reader Feedback

Don from Toronto Ontaril says:
I understand that it is a law in Brooklyn that such tenants cannot be removed. Must give credit to the witnesses for sticking to this law and I trust the new owners will do so as well.
Nov. 17, 2012, 9:06 am
Thor from Greenpoint says:
Most landlords will stick to the law and continue to provide the rent controlled apartment as they are bound by the law to do. What the fear would be is making the rent controlled tenant's life so difficult that they give up and move out on their own...nobody officially breaks the law and (in that example) a shady landlord would get their way. It sounds like the Witnesses were a good landlord and stuck to the letter and the spirit of the law. I hope that the new landlord continues to be good to this tennant as she deserves to be treated respectfully as a tennant.
Nov. 18, 2012, 12:31 pm

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