Activists and pols have joined forces to fight to save the iconic Kentile Floors sign, which is in danger of being demolished after towering over Gowanus for decades.
Twenty demonstrators, including Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D–Gowanus) and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus), took to the streets of Gowanus on Saturday to denounce the apparently imminent dismantling of the landmark after news broke that the owner of the building the sign sits atop had filed paperwork to tear it down. An organizer for the cause said the group is trying to figure out if there is a legal avenue to halt the tear-down.
“We want to get a stay of execution so we have time to rally more support and make the owner realize this is a huge mistake,” said Stephen Savage, a Park Slope artist. “I understand it’s his right, but any smart developer should let the community have a say in what should be done.”
Owner Regal Home Collections filed to destroy the structure in April and put scaffolding up around it last week. Ortiz, whose district ends at the corner of Ninth Street and Second Avenue diagonally across from the sign, denounced the move by Regal head Ely Cohen, saying the sign is an irreplaceable piece of the neighborhood’s fabric.
“The iconic Kentile Floors sign is a part of Brooklyn’s history, like the Hollywood sign is to California,” Ortiz said. “It is a beacon to our community, and we must not let it get torn down.”
A petition put online by Lander had garnered 750 signatures by Monday afternoon.
Cohen declined to comment through a spokesman.
For its defenders, the sign stands as a symbol of the neighborhood’s industrial past and the bohemian community that has thrived in former factory buildings.
“The bigger discussion is, ‘What’s going to happen to Gowanus?’ ” Savage said. “Are all the warehouses going to be torn down just like Williamsburg? Everybody here loves its dumpy charm.”
Another protest beneath the sign is planned for 10 am on Wednesday and a spokesman for Lander said the issue will most likely be discussed at an already-scheduled community planning meeting on June 25 at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center.
Protest to save Kentile Floors sign below the Regal Home Collections building (58 Second Ave. at Ninth Street in Gowanus). 10 am, June 11.
“Bridging Gowanus” planning meeting at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center (280 Wyckoff St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Boerum Hill) June 25, 6–9 pm.