At 837-843 Washington Street, on the corner of 13th, demolition has begun on what once held the last working meatpacking house in the center of the Meatpacking District. The space will soon command rents of $600 a square foot.
today: the plywood is up
2011: No signs, street art + small-wheel cyclist
2007: Signs on the awning for active business
837 Washington was sold back in 2008 by GOP leader James Ortenzio, after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion. He had been renting out the refrigerated warehouses here to meat businesses for well below market rate, keeping them alive.
Not very long ago, you could still see the movement of meat from the building's open doors, through which men labored at stainless steel tables.
2007: Wooden palettes, a sign of work being done
2011: Graffiti replaced by street art
today: workers bust a hole through the bricks
GVSP published a history of the building and images of its future. It was built in 1938 and housed throughout its lifetime almost nothing but meat. Among its last tenants were the Ottomanelli Co., Lamb Unlimited, and Diamond Meat Packer.
In these photos I took in 2007, you can still see the meatpackers' signage, bent and swinging under the corrugated awning.
There were once 250 meatpacking companies in the neighborhood. In 2003 there were only 35, and another 9 meatpackers moved out in 2009 alone, including the big Interstate Foods, which was demolished earlier this year to make room for a glass tower. Now that Weichsel's is being pushed out, what's left remains in the city-owned Gansevoort Meat Market Cooperative.
The red- and yellow-brick shell of 837 will remain, hollowed out to hold something very new.
There was a brief battle over the future of the building and what will stand on top of it--a giant glass box or a Niketown-style plan. The "twisty Mepa tower" won this past summer.