Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Scaffold Up, Kentile Down

In the neon book, I submit that Kentile might be *the* popular favorite among New York's old neon signs today, and the buzz generated by its apparently-impending demise seems to back this up.  Two hours after last week's post reporting the issuance of a demolition permit for the sign, Gothamist followed with its own write-up and the story has taken on a life of its own since then. Now, there's a petition circulating to convince Kentile's owners to save the sign.

 Kentile, June 9, 2014.  (T. Rinaldi)

Those owners have been cagey and evasive since the news broke, but all indications are that Kentile will come down imminently.  For all its popularity, the site is not a designated Landmark (despite efforts to do so), and with demolition permits already in place, the only hope for saving Kentile is that its owners (one Ely Cohen and Regal Home Collections) can be persuaded to incorporate it into whatever plans they may have for the site.  

#Kentile on Instagram. 

Wondering what might take Kentile's place?  The demo permit names a certain Bricolage Designs as the filing representative;  Bricolage's online portfolio is heavy on generic midrise condos, including a handful in Gowanus.  For now, the demolition permit applies only to the sign, not the building it stands on, and the owners have not announced any plans to redevelop the site.  But if this is any hint of what might be waiting in the wings, let's just say that a salvaged Kentile sign plopped down over one of these glamor girls wouldn't step on any architectural toes.  

Kentile's replacement?  Recent residential buildings in Gowanus.  (Google Streetview)

To encourage some form of Kentile preservation, City Council Member Brad Lander has launched the above-mentioned online petition (sign here).  A rally to save the sign took place over the weekend.  There's also a #SaveKentile movement gathering steam on Twitter, and the future of the Kentile site will be discussed at a community planning meeting to be held on June 25th.  But by that time, the sign could already be gone.

In the meantime, updates, memories and other thoughts on Kentile are being posted on the sign's Facebook and Twitter pages.


• The Petition to save Kentile.
• Write-ups on the sign at the Wall Street JournalGothamist, the Daily News, the NYT, and Brownstoner.
 Coverage at Curbed, including photos of the demolition plans.
 NYC Council Member Brad Lander's statement on the situation.
 Some editorializing on the sign's demise at Brokelyn
 A status check on the situation run by Gothamist this past Friday.
New York Neon's Kentile history primer.
Last summer's demolition of the nearby Eagle Clothes sign.

SPECIAL THANKS to Jarrett Brilliant for the tips and to Keith Williams at the Wall Street Journal for being the only reporter to link back to my original post.

NY NEON WALKING TOUR: Next tour scheduled for Friday, August 15, 2014, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society and Friends of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative.  Book online here!

After all this crappy news, we could all use a lift:  these glorious vintage photos from Vancouver should help. (Thanks to Laurence Johnston for the link.
• JVNY on the Home of Cheers Liquors situation in Chelsea.
• From the west coast, Debra Jane recently spent three days in Vegas.  She wasn't there to play the slots.  

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