Boycott the Marriott : Latest Update
STHâ€™s last Marriott update was in response to one of the Marriottâ€™s Trip Advisor reviews, where a recent Marriott guest - a musician and IT engineer -- stated that the hotelâ€™s location was a bit sketchy but the hotel itself was basically fine. Of greater concern to him, however, was that the hotel was â€œunfriendly to local artistsâ€ and that alone would prevent him from staying there again. In our own experience, and from the recent survey we did in the neighborhood, this is a true statement.
The Marriott General Managerâ€™s public response to this clientâ€™s review presented a false and misleading picture of the current situation with â€œthe small arts studio located next doorâ€œ -- meaning us, Spoke the Hub and Gowanus Arts, our 30 year old, 15,000 square foot, three story, 1880â€™s factory building which now houses over 12 working artists studios and serves literally thousands of children and adults every year. The Marriott GM states the hotel is â€œdeeply rootedâ€ and â€œintertwined in the fabricâ€ of the neighborhood - they opened their doors in the summer of 2011, so even this statement is an obvious stretch - and the hotel further states it is â€œeager to reach a compromiseâ€ and moving forward, become a â€œgood neighborâ€ to the 'little art studio' next door.
Au contraire, we would like to set the record straight:
There is currently no compromise or settlement offer being discussed at this time with Spoke the Hub despite what the hotel GM states. In fact, the Marriottâ€™s owner/developer, Marc Freud of Troutbrook Co., has flatly refused to deal directly with STH Director (and building owner) Elise Long.
The Marriott owner has also repeatedly refused to respond to STH attorneyâ€™s proposed settlement offer, submitted to Mr. Freud and the entire Marriott International team multiple times since the Fall of 2013.
And STH has recently been informed that Freud/Troutbrook has actually been sneaking around behind the scenes in an attempt to see if they can divide the ownership and buy them out - a classic, developerâ€™s â€œdivide and conquerâ€ tactic - which also makes the hotelâ€™s â€œgood neighborâ€ comment another Marriott charade.
But to give the Marriott the benefit of the doubt one more time, STH decided to do further fact checking to find out if our arts centerâ€™s experience with the Marriott was actually the anomaly. Perhaps other neighborhood not-for-profits and arts groups were experiencing a kinder, gentler Marriott, which is the portrait the Marriott paints of itself. So, last month, STH set out to discover if there was any truth to ANYTHING the Marriott proclaimed about their hotel in their promotional propaganda. We talked to people on the street, local residents, and long-time artists with studios all over the Gowanus, as well as sending a shout-out to everyone on our e-newsletter list -- you lot -- composed mostly of thousands of local, progressive, enthusiastic Brooklyn families, artists, arts supporters and educators. We asked if the Fairfield Marriott had benefited any of you, your organizations, or anyone you know in any way, shape, or form to date. We also sent out multiple requests to the owner, Freud/Troutbrook, and the whole Marriott team to supply us with a list of their charitable giving and in-kind contributions, particularly to our Gowanus neighborhood, from 2009-2014.
To date, we have only received two positive responses. The great majority of local residents told us they have had no interaction with the Marriott one way or another but no Brooklyn dancer, musician, visual artist, film-maker, designer, actor, educator or member of the Gowanus arts community of any stripe has responded positively so far.
The two positive responses we received were from one Brooklyn Boulders co-owner who stated BB had received â€œthousands of dollarsâ€ of support from the Marriott and he found them to be â€œa great community stewardâ€. (Curiously, BB does not credit the Marriott as a major benefactor on their website anywhere that we can see and when asked how many thousands of dollars exactly the Marriott had donated to BB, the owner refused to respond.)
The only other positive response we received was from a spokesperson for the Friends of Thomas Greene/Douglass Street Park, who said the Marriott gave them about $1,000 for park upgrades in the past and they also have let the group hold fundraising events and meetings at the hotel pro bono.
That was it. Two positive responses. And no financial reports backing up any Marriott charitable claim to date. So much for the Marriottâ€™s deep, community involvement, dedication to diversity, and support of the neighborhoodâ€™s rich and lively cultural scene.
Thus, STHâ€™s Marriott Boycott continues. Watch for the return of â€œDeveloping Storiesâ€ (returning to the 3rd Avenue sidewalk in front of the Marriott this summer) and watch for the unveiling ceremony of our giant new GOT BED BUGS? banner - the design which won our fall mural contest - to be installed later this spring.
For further information on the Marriott Boycott, or how to become involved in STHâ€™s next series of intergenerational, sidewalk protest performances, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.