Gowanus residents rally to save Kentile Floors sign

BROOKLYN (PIX11) — The sun may be setting on one of Brooklyn’s most recognizable fixtures.

The Kentile Floors sign, located at 111 9th Street and well known by subway riders who take the ‘F’ and ‘G’ trains through Gowanus, is seemingly in the process of coming down. Building Owner Ely Cohen recently received a permit to remove the eight-story structure, and scaffolding for the demolition is already in place.

But protestors aren’t giving up with out a fight.

“The neighborhood is changing very fast, development is coming in, you tear down the sign and nobody is going to remember what the area looked like,” said Stephen Savage of the group “Save Kentile.”

Since they heard about plans to remove the sign, Savage and the group “Save Kentile” have protested on 9th street.
He says the sign not only helps remind everyone of Brooklyn’s industrial past, but it also serves as a beacon for those who live in the neighborhood.

“It tells you where you are, both geographically and sort of spiritually. It reminds you of home.”

Which is why many people living in the borough say tearing down the Kentile Floors sign would be like tearing down one of New York’s most iconic landmarks.

“Imagine one individual had the right to tear down the Empire State Building,” said Esther Robinson who lives in Gowanus. “Wouldn’t you go and protest the loss of a landmark that was really special to you and that meant New York City?”

So far the answer seems to be a resounding yes. More than 1,800 people have signed a petition to save the sign on the website of City Councilman Brad Lander. Lander himself has joined the rallies and reached out to the building owner to try to change his mind.

“Mr. Cohen, we implore you to reconsider removal of this important piece of Brooklyn’s industrial landscape,” Lander says in the petition. “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.”

Cohen did not return our repeated calls for comment.

But a real-estate broker for the building owner says, despite the permit which was granted back in April, there are no plans to tear down the sign, a claim protestors aren’t buying.

“He’s pledged one thing publicly and then gone behind our back and gotten a permit in an effort to actually go around public opinion and to skirt his neighborly duties,” said Robinson

Previous efforts to give the sign landmark status were rejected under the Bloomberg administration. But with Mayor de Blasio living just a few blocks away, sign supporters hope something can be done before it’s too late.

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