Only the dead leave Brooklyn.
The South Brooklyn Casket Company — which has maintained a hulking, haunting factory on Union Street near the Gowanus Canal since the 1930s — is talking to city officials about moving its coffin-making operation to Queens, sources told The Brooklyn Papers.
“Between the tickets for street loading and the traffic, it’s an inefficient operation. They just can’t stay,” a source said.
They’ll make a killing selling their property. When the company opened decades ago, the banks of the Gowanus Canal were the perfect place for such a macabre industry. But now, as the neighborhood becomes more residential, the company can get a nice return if it sells, a source said.
The company is looking at industrial sites in Long Island City — and neighbors are treating it like a funeral.
“The place is a landmark,” said Freddy Robinson, who grew up nearby on Carroll Street. “It’s a symbol of good, honest heritage. I tell my kids about it when we go by on the bus.”
Harry Pantone, who owns the famously secretive company, refused to comment, in fact hanging up on a reporter twice. And on a recent morning, a workman warned an approaching Brooklyn Papers photographer against pressing the shutter button.
“If you take a picture, I’ll break your camera and give you a beating,” he said.
The Pantones aren’t expected to bury its Union Street operation completely. Angelina Pantone, Harry’s mother, still lives in an apartment above the company’s showroom on the south side of Union Street.
“She’s a wonderful woman, very bright and she’s lived up there forever,” said Buddy Scotto, a lifelong friend who runs Scotto Funeral Home nearby and is also the founder of a nonprofit housing organization, the Carroll Gardens Association. He hopes to partner with Pantone in developing affordable apartments at the site.
“I’ll miss them more than anyone,” said the undertaker. “Who do you think I call when someone calls me and says they need a coffin? But [Union Street] is not a place for industry anymore.”