6/11/14

Why is Ely Cohen Tearing Down the Kentile Sign?

Ely Cohen, the curtain merchant who owns the Regal Home Collection, is reportedly ready to demolish beloved Gownaus icon the Kentile sign.

According to Curbed (via Gothamist), Regal contractor Brian Kanarek of BKR Partners, who stonewalled Daily News reporters last week, denied a year ago that he intended to tear it down.

Brooklyn residents who love the sign, including Gowanus City Council Member Brad Lander, who wrote to Cohen asking him to spare it, are trying to save it from its owner.

Lander has mounted a petition campaign.  Here's the text of the petition:
"The Kentile Floors sign is an iconic part of the landscape of Brooklyn. Sitting eight-stories high, with striking red neon lettering, the decades-old sign has towered over the Gowanus Canal area for 50 years, admired every day by straphangers traveling along the Culver Viaduct and drivers on the Gowanus Expressway. In many ways, it stands for Gowanus.
Unfortunately, building owner Ely Cohen (of Regal Home Collection) has been issued a demolition permit by the NYC Department of Buildings to remove the sign. Efforts last year to have the sign landmarked were rejected by the Bloomberg Administration's Landmarks Preservation Commission.    
Mr. Cohen, we implore you to reconsider removal of this important piece of Brooklyn’s industrial landscape. At the very least, commit to preserve the sign intact and donate it to a conservation organization for future re-use in the Gowanus area."
You can sign the petition here.

Read more about Lander's campaign to save the Kentile sign here.

Hans Hesselein, executive director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, who watched the scaffolding going up around it, called the 1949-vintage sign "one of the most important architectural landmarks in the area."

Although the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission refused to landmark it, the now-darkened neon sign was nominated a "Place that Matters" at the “History Happened Here” conference in 1996.

Like the Eagle Clothing sign, torn down in 2013, the Kentile sign is an icon of industrial Brooklyn that has inspired thousands of photo images. But apparently, Cohen doesn't see the value in owning an icon.

Kentile, in the 1960s, provided more than 400 jobs.

The article from the Daily News.

The Brooklyn Daily article.

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