Greenpoint: Has the sale of the former Harte & Co. factory closed?

Eye On Real Estate

April 9, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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What will become of a much-admired – and highly polluted – Greenpoint industrial building, the former Harte & Co. factory, which may have just changed hands?

The eye-catching 1930s-vintage Arte Moderne property, located thisclose to mega-project Greenpoint Landing, has been under contract since summer 2012 – and the sale was set to close on or about Feb. 1, a memorandum of contract in city Finance Department records reveals.

The buyer of the yellow-brick factory, which has an eye-catching curved facade fashioned from glass blocks, is Dupont Street Developers LLC, the memorandum indicates. The LLC’s authorized signatory is Judah Zelmanovitz, a Fordham University-educated lawyer with a Flatlands Avenue office.

Zelmanovitz wouldn’t tell Eye on Real Estate what the purchaser’s plans are for the massive property, which has frontage on Franklin, Dupont and Clay streets.

“All I can give you is ‘No comment,’” he said.

Brokers from Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, whose marketing signs are on the building, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

The property is a preservationists’ favorite – and a state Superfund site. The building’s seller, Nuhart & Co., had underground storage tanks of toxic chemicals that leaked into the soil and groundwater.

Nuhart, which made vinyl for shower curtains and upholstery at the factory, moved its manufacturing operations out of the building several years ago.

Nuhart executive Joseph Folkman, who signed the memorandum of contract, could not be reached for comment. A Nuhart entity has owned 280 Franklin St. since 1983, city records indicate.

The building will probably make it onto a list of 20-some properties for which advocacy group Preservation Greenpoint will seek individual landmark status from the city.

“It’s distinctive,” said the group’s co-founder, Matthew Coody. “It has a certain industrial flare instead of just being brick walls.”

The list of landmarking candidates is being prepared by a consultant that Preservation Greenpoint hired with a $1,400 Margo Gale Fund grant from the Victorian Society. The grant paid for a block-by-block inventory of Greenpoint buildings that are outside the neighborhood’s historic districts and are not individually designated landmarks.

Preservation Greenpoint included the former Harte & Co. building in some of the tours it gave after winning the Historic Districts Council’s 2013 “Six to Celebrate” award for Greenpoint.

The factory building was also among the important properties that were spotlighted when the Preservation League of New York State named the industrial heritage of Greenpoint and Williamsburg to its “Seven to Save” list in 2006.

Though below-ground pollution is a complicating factor, Coody’s group is advocating for adaptive reuse for the former Franklin Street factory.

It could be turned into a hotel – like Box House, a converted Greenpoint industrial building – or used for techie businesses, he said, citing Kickstarter’s move to the Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. factory on Kent Street. Or it could be used for manufacturing, he said.

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