Friday, June 8, 2007

Cement Factory, or Public Space?

I had known for some time that discussions were under way for cleaning up the large, overgrown empty lot at the corner of 5th Street and Smith abutting the Gowanus Canal. When we lived on 4th Place (up until earlier this year), we passed this parcel on a regular basis.

What I was not aware of was the plans to boot the cement factory adjacent to the parcel as well. Via the Brooklyn Paper, that is part of the plan for the site.
But now, as the city moves forward with a plan to build residential towers and parkland on the 5.8-acre Public Place site, the 35-year-old company could be evicted within the year, with not a cent of reimbursement.

Gowanus Lounge also has blogged about this project on occasion, but I wasn't a regular reader back in the day (now, it's at least a daily visit).

On one hand, it will be nice to clean up that parcel and do something positive with it. On the other hand, it is a very industrialized area with working businesses. The cement factory is busy, which I can attest to having lived a block and half away for a couple of years. Where are these businesses supposed to go?

This, along with the American Stevedoring business and countless other industrial uses, are also a part of the community. Like it or not, we need cement, we need working waterfronts, and we need the jobs they provide.

If they do end up booting the cement factory however . . . how about the grain silo in Red Hook? Recently a Mr. Quadrozzi was proposing that site as a cement storage facility, the site is dormant, arguably in an even better location, and conveniently, could be leased from the city.

CORRECTION/UPDATE: The Columbia Street Grain Elevator and surrounding acreage were sold by the Port Authority in 1997 to a private entity called the Gowanus Industrial Park, Inc. The President of Gowanus Industrial Park is none other than John Quadrozzi, Jr., who also owns Quadrozzi Concrete. Quadrozzi's own proposal for re-use of the grain terminal as a cement storage facility makes a lot of sense, and he presumably would not be inclined to hand over the plum site to Ferrara Brothers.

From the Google, this Village Voice article from 1998 yields an interesting spippet:
One mob-tied company, Quadrozzi Concrete, gave $3000, starting with $1500 in November 1996, at the very moment that Marlin approved the no-bid, discounted sale of a 43-acre, authority-owned grain terminal to the firm. John Quadrozzi, who was awaiting sentencing for making payoffs to the Luchese crime family when the deal closed, was allowed to buy the site even though he was barred from doing business by another state agency, as well as the federal government. The law firm that represented Quadrozzi on the transaction, which was approved by Marlin, donated another $500.

Every time I think I'm done with this post, they keep pulling me back in.

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