A 90-foot-high monument to industrial decline will soon return to service.
The massive, dun-colored silos that have loomed over Red Hook Park for decades will store the raw materials for concrete, according to John Quadrozzi Jr., the owner of the Columbia Street Grain Elevator.
“Nowadays, we need room for building materials in Brooklyn,” said Quadrozzi, who said that it would take a year to do the repairs necessary to make the elevator work again.
Built in 1922 at the dead-end where Columbia Street meets the mouth of the Gowanus Canal, the reinforced concrete grain terminal has languished since 1965, when waning shipping traffic on the canal put it out of business.
In 1987, after years of neglect, state officials demolished the structure’s conveyors and loading pier.
A decade later, Quadrozzi bought the elevator and the 159-acre industrial area around it for concrete production and storage for bulk materials like road salt. Growth has been steady and in the fall, Tri-State Bio-diesel will begin manufacturing environmentally friendly fuel in the shadow of the grain elevator, which is often used as a set for movies.
“We always wanted to bring this area back to what it has always been: a center for industry,” said Quadrozzi.
Yet, the refilling of the industrial silos is only a part of Quadrozzi’s plan for the Gowanus Bay waterfront, which will be home to Ikea next year.
Shopping is the other part.
“I see this area as ideal for a mixed-rise project that would encompass retail,” the longtime industrial developer told The Stoop.
“Ikea has created a shopping destination here. I could swim upstream [and continue to do only industry], or I could swim with the other fishes.”