Save the Kentile Floors Sign
BREAKING NEWS: Kentile Floors Sign, a Stalwart Remnant of a Grittier Brooklyn, Will Get a New Home. Thanks to all who helped make it happen!
I’m deeply distressed to learn of the imminent threat to the Kentile Floors sign. Demolition of this iconic sign would be an enormous loss for Gowanus and for Brooklyn. Sitting eight-stories high, with striking red neon lettering, the decades-old sign is a city treasure, admired every day by straphangers traveling along the Culver Viaduct and drivers on the Gowanus Expressway. In many ways, it stands for Gowanus.
Last summer, our community was saddened by the removal of the Eagle Clothing sign, another defining feature of the Brooklyn skyline and a significant contributor to the unique character of the Gowanus neighborhood. At that time, my office requested that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designate the Kentile Floors sign for historic preservation. Sadly, the Bloomberg Administration’s LPC refused to consider designation. I have written to the owner of the Kentile Sign (and the building it sits on), Ely Cohen of Regal Home Collection, imploring him to reconsider removal of this important piece of Brooklyn’s industrial landscape. At the very least, if Mr. Cohen is unwilling to reconsider, he should commit to preserve the sign intact and donate it to a conservation organization for future re-use in the Gowanus area.
In recent months, the Gowanus has witnessed the demolition of several older structures. And many properties have changed hands, at prices far beyond what is merited by the manufacturing zoning in place around the canal. Let me be clear: those who are paying big price tags for industrial buildings in Gowanus and demolishing historic structures on the assumption that they will be able to build market-rate condo buildings like those on Fourth Avenue are making a big mistake.
The Gowanus neighborhood is currently engaged in a community planning process convened by local elected officials. Through this process (Bridging Gowanus) some clear points of consensus have emerged: The Gowanus area must remain mixed-use, with room for manufacturing and artists. If some housing is to be allowed, it must include a significant affordable component. Infrastructure (to address flooding and school overcrowding) and open space are required. The character of the area must be maintained. And local landmarks should not be sacrificed for development. Owners and developers who want to be part of the future of Gowanus would do well to heed the consensus of our community.
Please visit www.BridgingGowanus.org for more information, or join us for a community planning meeting on Wednesday June 25 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center (280 Wyckoff Street).