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A ‘notary’ loss

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It’s the end of a ramshackle era for Smith Street buildings once owned by a true character on the South Brooklyn real-estate scene.

Demolition is poised to begin on the two buildings that housed the cluttered offices of the late Vincent Russo to make way for new five-story buildings with rental apartments and commercial space on the ground floor.

It’s an end to an era that, frankly, ended even before Russo died in 2006. Back when the swashbuckling broker was still in the business, apartment-seekers would sit in Russo’s cramped, isolated lair at the corner of Ninth Street and watch him flip through a loose-leaf binder with information on various units.

But more than for his real-estate business, Russo was much better known as the notary public who put up such a large “Notary” sign on the outside of his buildings that they could be seen from the F train as it rose to the Smith-Ninth Street platform.

Yet he never made a dime off his notary services. “He never charged anyone for it,” said Tom Russo (no relation), the founder of the Red Hook Chamber of Commerce. “It was an honor for him to do it.”

He certainly dressed the part, too. “He’d come in with a white jacket and a red rose in his lapel,” said former Assemblyman Frank Verderame.

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