Back in gray! Coignet building’s original facade revealed

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Coignet building is finally showing its true colors.

The original gray facade of the historic Gowanus edifice is visible for the first time in decades, now that workers have stripped away a red brick veneer that had shrouded the landmarked building since the 1960s.

Construction crews are still in the process of restoring the structure at Third Avenue and Third Street back to its former glory, but recently removed some of the scaffolding from the second floor, Brownstoner first reported, revealing a sneak peak of the original concrete walls, which are more than 140 years old.

Whole Foods Market has been rehabilitating the crumbling structure as part of its deal with the city to build its fancy food market next door. The Gowanus Whole Foods opened its own doors in December 2013, but the company did not start work on the Coignet building until March 2014 — after the Landmarks Preservation Commission threatened the upscale grocery giant with a $3,000 fine, and neighbors claimed the supermarket’s construction created a big crack in the historic structure’s walls.

The former New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company headquarters may have been the first concrete building in the city when it was built in 1873. Park Slope real estate tycoon Edwin Clark Litchfield moved his office there in 1882, and his Brooklyn Improvement Company remained there until 1957, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Coignet building was abandoned in the ’60s, and has remained empty ever since. The city designated it a landmark in 2006.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

cmx from EV says:
Would be only $3000 for the fine? Are you joking?
April 9, 2015, 6:24 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Still find it interesting that this building was landmarked in 2006 and *continued* to crumble.... but there were no threats of fines until Whole Foods entered into this weird arrangement. (Keep in mind, Whole Foods still doesn't own this building. It's still owned by the people that have been letting it crumble for years and years and years. Why is that never mentioned?! Hmmm, Noah?)
April 9, 2015, 8:06 pm
no breaks here for WFM from the swamp says:
Whole Foods took little precaution to protect or prevent further damage during the many years of their cleanup and construction. In the time Whole Foods began demo on the site till now, the building deteriorated significantly.
Whole Foods is part of the problem and so part of the continued story.
And Whole Foods petitioned Landmarks to squeeze down the building with their building redesign, after they realized they couldn't submerge the store under the swampland--back when they were hoping to get away with twisting zoning law by only building their store as a "cellar".
April 9, 2015, 9:21 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
You mean those many years of extremely expensive cleanup to transform a toxic waste dump into useable land? Yeah, Whole Foods sure is evil.

I don't even shop there, they are way too expensive. But the ridiculous list of requirements the city imposed on them in order to develop an abandoned, polluted wasteland -- it's absurd.

So, the message is, you have to be a massive corporation with insane resources if you want to develop anything in this city, even if it means rehabbing a toxic brownfield that no one else is willing to tackle. Is that the message we really want to be giving? Is the message, you can develop X as long as you pay for your neighbor's property? You think that's rational?
April 10, 2015, 6:56 am
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
I think you guys are misusing the word "facade," which means the covering, not the underlying brickwork.
April 10, 2015, 10:33 am
Ruth Brown (Brooklyn Paper) says:
facade |fəˈsäd| (also façade)
the face of a building, esp. the principal front that looks onto a street or open space.
April 10, 2015, 11:11 am
Omar from Bushwick says:
You do realize that definition shows you are misusing the word?
April 10, 2015, 2:26 pm
Ruth Brown (Brooklyn Paper) says:
The building's face is its exterior. The LPC document linked in the article also refers to this building's exterior as its facade. The term can ALSO be used figuratively to mean a fake front when talking about people.

See also
April 10, 2015, 3:09 pm
respectful development from Brooklyn says:
to Jimmy: you have to have massive resources to develop stupid projects in this city, projects that are prohibitively expensive because they should be prohibited.
There are many positive small impacts and lower scale which are being built in Brooklyn that reasonable developers are doing. After all it is the smaller low-scale redevelopment that is responsible for the resurgence of the Brooklyn real-estate market. All these large scale projects like Whole Foods and Lightstone are just sucking the life out of the place, not contributing or enhancing anything.
April 16, 2015, 3:50 pm

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