Thursday, January 3, 2013

Central Iron & Metal

Another long-time, blue-collar business is about to be lost to High Lined property values. The scrap yard that runs between 27th and 28th Streets, between 10th and 11th Avenues, has been bought from the Central Iron and Metal, Co. by Related for $65 million.

Reports the Real Deal: "At 17,275 square feet and 14,800 square feet, respectively, the two lots have a combined maximum floor-to-area ratio of 241,204 square feet, making them a ripe prospect for residential or commercial development."

This is the latest in an ever lengthening list of blue-collar businesses that have vanished in the shadow of the High Line--some bought out and some forced out--including: the 10th Avenue Tire Shop, the Chelsea Mobil gas station, the Olympia Parking Garage, the Bear Auto Body Shop, the warehouse for Kamco building materials, and the third-generation Brownfeld Auto.

The Central Iron & Metal scrap yard has been recycling and "conserving for tomorrow" since 1927. A ghost sign of their name is (was?) painted on the High Line's flank.

From the history of "NYC's Original Recycler."

I've been watching the scrap yard for a few years now, taking its photo, waiting for it to go. Looking at it, you knew it would never last, not once the second part of the High Line opened right over it, giving tourists a verboten view of ugly old industrial New York. Not once the condo towers started rising all around it, their residents complaining about everything that came before they arrived. It was only a matter of time.

This may not seem like an important loss. (Personally, I like a scrap yard. I love those machines with the big magnets and the grabby bits that move the scrap from one pile to another. I could watch them all day.) But it is important because it's been in business for 86 years and it's one of the last remaining pieces of a neighborhood that has been gobbled up by the High Line and the massive hyper-gentrification it helped to create, including Bloomberg's rezoning of the "Special West Chelsea District," an area that had once been a thriving light-industrial zone, now being bulldozed for luxury housing and retail, the connecting link between MePa and the wicked Hudson Yards scheme.

Of course the scrap yard had to go. Such indelicate things don't belong in Manhattan anymore.


Aside from doing the valuable work of recycling metal, the scrap yard also served another purpose. I believe it was a bulwark between the High Liners and Folsom East, as well as the Eagle bar, located on the same block. Having a bit of rough-and-tumble, like a scrap yard with its imposing corrugated walls and junkyard dog warnings, helped to protect that block from infiltrators. Who wants to live next to a scrap yard? (Eh, who am I kidding? Condos will go anywhere.)

With the scrap yard gone--and with massive Avalon West Chelsea rising across the street, plus the existing condo dwellers starting to get cocky--I'll be even more worried about the future of Folsom and the Eagle.

This little block of West 28th Street is getting tighter by the minute.


Disney World on the Hudson
West 28th Lot
Folsom East and The Eagle
Folsom East Responds
Folsom Fights On
Folsom Under High Line
Eagle Under Siege


Anonymous said...

The Mobil station at 14th had its death warrant signed years ago, the last time it changed ownership. It was only a matter of time before that one flipped.

JAZ said...

Ugh - you gotta be fucking kidding me. The Wednesday after Sandy, I took a buddy of mine to check on family in the Chelsea Houses, and the other side of 10th Ave was an absolute ghost town - except for the boys at Central Iron yard on 27th. While all the fancy galleries, skinny jeans scenesters, and artisanal food 'shoppes' were zipped up and nowhere to be found, the iron guys weren't letting anything stop them. It was a real testimony to the toughness of blue collar NY, and seeing nothing going on between the west side of 10th and the highline couldn't help but take my mind back to another time in this city.

Of course anything that brings back memories of a different time are completely unwelcome in the hypergentrification era, as are the people who stir those memories.

RIP Central Iron & Metal

Ivan said...

More news that makes me grind my teeth down to nubs...

But wouldn't it be a sick, wonderful justice if, over time, the actually view from the High Line gets blocked by all the condos? Then in 20 years (who am I kidding? Five years), the condo-vultures will demand the High Line be torn down: it's too old and ugly. (I guess I shouldn't blame the High Line itself, but I can't help it.)

Keep fighting the good fight, and Happy New Year,

Anonymous said...

You heard it here first: I think Aunt Suzie's on Bleecker is done. The place has been closed, the website is down and the phone has been disconnected.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Cities need these places, places of utility, of industry, places that have practical use. Gas stations and mechanics, factories and scrap yards, as well as all the districts that made midtown so interesting(fashion, fur, flowers, restaurant equipment, lighting etc.). Bloomberg and his rich buddies don't see that- cities are just places to exploit their "brand" of luxury and consumption. Sad sad sad...

JM said...

My city is gone.

geophysique said...

I like rummaging in a scrap yard just as much as anyone, but this sappy lamenting over the loss of auto-body shops and gas stations in the neighborhood is kind of pathetic. Neighborhoods change in NYC they always do. Unfortunately the change is quite predictably awful- towering glass and steel hulks with no design element whatsoever and completely unsustainable in our changing times. NYC has constructed almost nothing of interest in the past 60 years.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

This makes me sad. Not only is it the disappearance of a business, but will be the disappearance of all the people who go with it. Those people are what make the city interesting and vital. Who wants to live in a city where every person is just a cardboard copy of the next?

Anonymous said...

We lament the loss of things are real and useful destroyed to make way for the vapid and corporate. I don't find that pathetic. What NYC created in the past 60 years is more than can be measured in corporate flagships and condo towers. It's art, music, theater- it's a feeling, an attitude, a way of life. I guess some people don't see it.

Mildred Fierce said...

And the own of that scrap metal yard is crying all the way to the bank with his multimillion dollar check. Was he supposed to reject an offer just so you could feel authentic?

Paul W said...

Congratulations Lenny , thanks for the memorie's , you will be missed .

Anonymous said...

I used to live in the building right over the scrap metal yard. I came home from work one day and had an eviction notice on my front door because they had sold the two buildings for millions of dollars. Now the Formato's sold their property for who knows how much, and they are laughing all the way to the bank!