Welcome Back! Coignet Building’s historic façade emerges during rehab

Gowanus landmark glows ghost-white under construction shroud

August 29, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
That's the Coignet Building, Gowanus' lonely little landmark, with its original white concrete façade glowing behind a construction shroud. Workers have stripped red fake-brick siding off the city landmark.
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Preservationists rejoice! Little Red is looking good.

The Coignet Building, that little lost landmark dwarfed by Gowanus’ gigantic Whole Foods, has been stripped of red fake-brick siding that had obscured its true beauty since the 1960s.

Squint past the black-net construction shroud covering the 1870s-vintage architectural icon — and you’ll see its original ghost-white façade, newly uncovered.

Construction crews have liberated the city landmark at 360 Third Ave. from its red covering as part of  exterior renovation paid for by gourmet grocery chain Whole Foods, which opened its first Brooklyn store in December on the lot surrounding the Coignet Building.

The rehab, which began in March, will cost an estimated $1.3 million, according to a city Buildings Department permit.

The lonely little landmark’s newly emerged façade is made of artificial stone — which is really concrete.

Frenchman Jacques Coignet devised a method of making concrete that looks like stone. His technology was brought to Brooklyn by the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company, which built its headquarters on Third Avenue and 3rd Street.

The moon-pale property, which was meant to serve as a showcase for the company’s wares, is the first known concrete building in New York City.

Richard Kowalski, the present-day owner of the long-vacant commercial building on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, sold the land surrounding it to Whole Foods in 2005 for $4,945,200, city Finance Department records indicate.

Kowalski, who has had the Coignet Building on the market for sale or rent for quite some time, hasn’t made any decisions about who will be its next occupant.

“There’s no news,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle Friday, “nothing going right now.”

Last December, he told the Eagle he had several offers from potential takers.   

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