Here’s the Coignet Building as you’ve never seen it before

No more construction fence or sidewalk shed around the Gowanus landmark

April 21, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Look — it's the landmarked Coignet Building, flanked by the wings of Gowanus' Whole Foods. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Hello, Gorgeous.

Here’s the Coignet Building, in all its moon-pale splendor, fully revealed to the world.

The lonely little landmark, which is flanked by the enormous wings of Gowanus’ Whole Foods supermarket, has been under wraps during a two-year restoration.

But the sidewalk shed and construction fence that covered the bottom half of the two-story individual city landmark at 360 Third Ave. were removed in recent days.

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Now passersby can get an eyeful of its entire façade, from head to toe.

The sweet little survivor from the 1870s is historically significant: It’s the first known concrete building in New York City.

What appears to be meticulously carved stone is actually a type of concrete that was patented in France in the 19th Century by François Coignet and brought to Brooklyn.

Prior to its restoration, the Coignet Building was covered with what looked like red brick, in a cheerful, eye-catching color, with white artificial stone visible around the windows and roof.

The red and white made a pleasing color combo — but on second glance, the brick was fake and the artificial stone was marred by graffiti.   

The New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company Building was constructed to show off the concrete construction material that was made in a factory located on the land where Whole Foods now stands.

Whole Foods paid for the Coignet Building’s exterior renovation as part of the deal it made to purchase the supermarket site on the corner of Third Avenue and 3rd Street. City Buildings Department filings indicate the restoration’s estimated cost was $1.3 million.  

Richard Kowalski sold the land to Whole Foods for $4,945,200, city Finance Department records indicate. He continues to own the Coignet Building.

Kowalski did not respond to a query from the Brooklyn Eagle about what’s next for the vacant commercial building, which he’s offering for sale or rent. Last September, he told the Eagle there were “several prospects” interested in the property.

The asking price for its sale is $5 million, according to a posting by Cushman & Wakefield, the brokerage with the listing. According to the firm’s marketing material, the Coignet Building’s interior needs a gut renovation.          

The New York Landmarks Conservancy recently announced that the Coignet Building’s now-completed exterior restoration project is one of its Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards winners.


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