Red Hook

Gowanus Landmarking Coalition Offers Reward For Info On Bowne Storehouse Fire

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RED HOOK – The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition is offering a $300 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in the June 14 fire at the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse that the FDNY says may have been intentionally set.

S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse, 595-611 Smith Street (Photo taken June 15, 2018, the morning after the fire, by Nathan Haselby)

“The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition has learned that FDNY believes the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse fire may have been intentionally set,” a statement from the Coalition begins. “We are sad to have our strong suspicions confirmed but are not deterred from continuing to advocate for the protection of important sites in the Gowanus area – including the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse. In light of the upcoming Gowanus rezoning, these historic buildings are vulnerable to profound change and development pressures. They must be protected.”

A FDNY representative said the fire at the warehouse located at 595-611 Smith Street and owned by the Chetrit Group is “considered suspicious,” Crain’s New York first reported. The investigation is ongoing.

Built in 1886, the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse is one of 33 key historic structures in the Gowanus/Red Hook area that the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition has requested the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission consider for landmark designation prior to the rezoning of Gowanus. The Coalition launched a petition last week boosting its efforts to save the Bowne building from demolition.

The fire broke out in the historic building days after community advocates met with Council Member Carlos Menchaca to discuss advancing efforts to landmark the site after locals discovered unauthorized work being done on the building’s roof in May

Following the June 14 blaze, Council Member Menchaca released a statement calling the fire “highly suspicious,” and asked that the FDNY release to the public its findings on the cause of the fire. Menchaca also called on the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to conduct a “thorough review of permits and violations at the site and to hold the owner accountable for a long series of irresponsible activities there.”

“We are also announcing a $300 reward for a tip or documentation provided to the FDNY that leads to an arrest in the suspected arson – a blaze that not only damaged an historic building worth landmarking, but also required firefighters to risk their safety,” the statement from the Coalition added.

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