About a week after scaffolding began going up around the iconic Kentile Floors sign, the owner of the building that it sits on has confirmed it is indeed coming down. However, the letters will live on at another location after they’re donated to the Gowanus Alliance.
Council Member Brad Lander and the Gowanus Alliance announced an agreement with Ely Cohen, the owner of C&F Second Avenue — the building at 111 9th Street, where the sign is — to preserve the letters during their removal, and then pass them on to the non-profit organization for preservation.
“We are a part of the Gowanus community,” Cohen said in a statement distributed by Lander. “We love the sign, and we heard the voices of so many community members. We will work hard to preserve the letters during removal, and donate them to the Gowanus Alliance for preservation and reuse, so they can continue to be part of the community for generations to come.”
Apparently the removal was “driven by structural and repair needs” following a lack on maintenance on the sign, poor conditions of the warehouse roof, and ongoing structural issues in the building that were aggravated by flooding during Hurricane Sandy.
According to Lander’s release, Cohen “will absorb the substantial extra cost of seeking intact removal of the letters, if possible. While every effort will be made to preserve them during removal, the safety of the workers must be the first priority, and some damage may occur during removal.”
Rumors of the sign’s demise first surfaced last year, but those were quieted, and it wasn’t until the scaffolding began going up on June 4 of this year that the deal seemed sealed. A petition was started by Lander and protests sprung up to save the sign, which, according to New York Neon, probably was installed there in the 1950s. The Kentile company closed a few years after filing for bankruptcy in 1992 — in addition to this sign, another, smaller local relic of the company exists after being unearthed recently on the wall inside of Morgan’s.
Where the giant neon letters, only recently relit for the first time in more than two decades, will go if they make it down from there remains to be seen, but they will be in good hands.
“We will work closely with the community and Council Member Lander to preserve the letters, and to find a marvelous location for their eventual re-installation, where they can serve the public and be part of the future of Gowanus,” said Paul Basile, founder and director of the Gowanus Alliance.