Greenpoint Gazette

Williamsburg Hoteliers Turn Barren CitiStorage Lot into Bocce Court

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Developers of the much talked about Williamsburg Hotel, Evan Altman and James Stuart, have completed construction on a state-of-the-art Bocce Court on the former site of the CitiStorage facility.

The idea for the project came about during a fundraiser hosted for the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center, by the developers. It was there that Altman and Stuart encountered the owners of CitiStorage, Norm and Elaine Brodsky, and in discussing the fire that ravaged their property and destroyed their home last January, decided they wanted to do something as a goodwill gesture.

Altman and Stuart took a tour of the property and saw that the company’s offices had been relocated to a trailer parked by the waterfront, but there was a lot of open space yet, and the owners wanted to restore a little bit of life to the property.

For Altman and Stuart, a river facing Bocce Court was the first thing came to mind – a perfect accompaniment to a summer barbecue at the site.

“The unique thing is that it is the kind of backyard game that anyone can play,” said Stuart. “We are lucky that it has one of the best locations in Brooklyn.”

Stuart, who is British, grew up playing the game in his home country, where it is called Boules. It’s known by a different name in each of the major European countries, Petanque in France and Bocce in Italy, for example. North Brooklyn’s Italian immigrant community prompted Stuart and Altman to pick the CitiStorage site as the location.

Because the owners gave them a free hand at the construction, Stuart and Altman were able to build a regulation size Bocce court that can now host tournaments.

For now however the court remains private. The owners and the developers have discussed the possibility of starting a league, but those plans are still in the ether, but on warm summer’s day if you hear the sound of balls clacking against each other, you’ll know a spirited game of Bocce is underway on the Williamsburg waterfront.

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