In the News: “We don’t like change.”

The Trib has an amazing story about the last of the neighborhood’s textile wholesalers, Paramount/Boltex Textile Company, still ensconced in an L-shaped building at 34 Walker that wraps around Belle Reve on Church. They are closing shop and selling the building, now listed for nearly $16 million. (That’s the real estate agent’s image, below, and further down, an excerpt from Tom Miller’s history of the building, and below that, Carl Glassman’s video of the brothers, made 10 years ago.)

The business was run by three brothers whose grandfather founded the company in the 1930s and whose father ran it after that. They manufactured restaurant and hotel textiles there until 2003, then moved the operations to Mexico and used the building as a warehouse. “We like the area to go to work,” one of the Katz brothers says in the video. But when recalling the neighborhood in the ’70s he adds: “I wouldn’t want to live in this area. I always had that feeling of being scared of the rats, the mice, the bugs. The filth of this place. This whole area at that time — it wasn’t residential.”

So here’s my addition to the story: I of course wanted to see who owns the tax payer that is Belle Reve, since that seems like an obvious addition to the development. (It reminds me of the restoration of 31 Leonard going on right now around the Square Diner.) It’s a corporate entity out of Chinatown called Hop Yee — not to be confused with the restaurant Hop Kee — that took the deed in 1981. The building is in the Tribeca East Historic District, but others would know better if it is protected. This from the Tribeca East designation report:

This two-story small commercial building extends fifty feet along Church Street and twenty-five feet along Walker Street. Designed by Brooklyn Heights architect Larry Meltzer, it was erected for the Surel Realty Corporation in 1953-54. Previously the site contained a five-story marble-fronted store and loft building, typical of the district, that was erected in 1867 and designed by John B. Snook for Thomas Lewis, both of whom were involved in many building projects in the area. Faced in brick (now painted), the exterior of the present building contains an expansive storefront of metal and glass with a recessed, chamfered entrance at the corner and multipane casement and fixed sash steel windows at the second story. A brightly colored, three-dimensional sign which extends across the two facades advertises the bar/restaurant located in the first story.

From Tom Miller’s post:

On March 13, 1866, 34 Walker Street appeared on the Metropolitan Board of Health’s list of “filthy locations.” That same year, architect and civil engineer E. J. M. Derrick left his position with the Erie Railway. He had designed railroad stations and related structures for the firm. On October 6, he advertised his new architectural office at 119 Broadway. Among his first commissions would be an L-shaped loft building on the site of the old Verplanck house and the frame building at 309 Church Street.

John F. Delaplaine had hired Derrick to design the commercial building, which was being built especially for dry goods merchants Heine, Huber & Company. Its cast-iron facades were Italianate in style, with large arched openings separated by simple pilasters. 


1 Comment

  1. 36 Walker Street (the “five-story marble-fronted store and loft building”) is on the left of this 1940 tax photo: