Is Red Hook’s Historic S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse Being Demolished Without a Permit?

The building this week. Photo by Susan De Vries

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Could the historic S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse soon be demolished one way or another, with or without official city sanction? A tipster told Brownstoner he recently saw workers taking apart 595 Smith Street, owned by well-known real estate developer Meyer Chetrit, and loading it into a “dumpster piece by piece.”

There were about 10 workers dismantling the facade and some of the wooden support beams. They’ve extended the scaffold to wrap around the back right side of the building and removed some large sections of the exterior brick. Sadly at this point it seems they may have destroyed the building to the point of no return.

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The building in June 2018. Photo by Susan De Vries

Locals have been trying to landmark the large red-brick building for years. After local City Council Member Carlos Menchaca met with a group to talk about landmarking it and notified the owner, the building burned in a fire the next day. The city said the fire was set intentionally. The DOB issued a demolition permit for the building in February, but as of today, the DOB shows no permits on file for the building.

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Firefighters on the scene in 2018. Photo by Susan De Vries

The property has a history of complaints of poor maintenance, illegal dumping and dangerous conditions. Built in 1886, the unprotected brick warehouse is a remnant from a time when the warehouses of Red Hook and Gowanus were at the center of a thriving shipping industry that brought in, stored and shipped goods all over the world. The property is part of a Gowanus Historic District that was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, but not yet listed.

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The building covered in scaffolding today. Photo via a tipster

The work comes at a time when the city is moving to rezone nearby Gowanus. Chetrit Group’s numerous projects in Brooklyn include the M500 hotel in Williamsburg, the supertall at 9 Dekalb in Downtown Brooklyn, and the revamp of Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn Heights. We have reached out to the owner for comment.

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The storehouse in 1934, located to the right of the tanks of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company. Photo by P.L. Sperr via New York Public Library

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