Cha-Chang! Sam Chang Builds First, Brands Later

“His attitude was more or less, ‘I speak from experience, and you newbies are in for a serious spanking,’” said Gabby Warshawer, who covered the debate for the Brooklyn real estate blog Brownstoner.

Other parts of town, meanwhile, are still yearning for some of Mr. Chang’s frank perspective.

Residents in the Bronx were miffed when the developer skipped public meetings and instead sent an attorney to answer questions about his proposed Comfort Inn on Webster Avenue, a project that, critics fear—given its remote location and the neighborhood’s seedy lodging history—could devolve into an hourly rate motel or makeshift homeless shelter.

Even subsequent protests failed to persuade Mr. Chang to show up.

“When you’ve got the chairman of the Democratic Party, the borough president’s office, and the local city councilman all walking the picket line, saying, ‘Stop this hotel’—that would’ve been the ‘Aha!’ moment for me,” said Gregory Faulkner, chairman of the Bronx’s Community Board 7. “That would’ve been the time for me to go out there and meet with people.”

Next week, the board is scheduled to vote on a resolution expressing its opposition to Mr. Chang’s proposed hotel. Not that it stands much chance of ever stopping the McSam steamroller.

“It’s as-of-right,” Mr. Faulkner conceded, “so he’s perfectly able to build without us.”