Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Cold Night in Brooklyn

Hundred Saved From Grain Explosion
By Immediate Eviction in Brooklyn;
Temperature Was Well Below Freezing.
Wheat Waited Quietly for Four Years
But Could Have Blown Up Any Time.

On Sunday in below-freezing weather, over one hundred residents of 475 Kent Avenue, an 11-floor commercial building in Williamsburg, were evicted by City employees on two hours' notice.

The Fire Department issued the vacate order effective immediately because they discovered two silos containing wheat and rats in the basement of the building. The wheat was used for baking matzos. The Fire Department feared that it would explode, although there was no evidence that it was about to. In a New York Post column titled "Matzo Bawl at Building," FDNY Deputy Chief Joe Woznica described the situation by saying, "Residents were living with two large bombs in the basement."


  1. Point of clarification: you wrote that Gowanus Lounge "is a blog where people write about what is going on in their neighborhoods, and particularly in their buildings."

    Actually, GL is a blog about Brooklyn real estate/development written, reported, and photographed by Bob Guskind. He often links to work by others or publishes statements/documents sent him, but that doesn't mean it's a free for all.

  2. A good watch dog barks at anything that is out of the ordinary. It is better to woken in the middle of the night then to sleep through an injustice.

    Unfortunately, this type of "eviction" is becoming more commonplace not only in NYC but statewide.Why should anyone reap the benefit of an illegal act?

    It is unclear who is responsible but there should be a moratorium on the sale of the property just in case the tenants are unable to return.

    Finally, the NYFD and DOB were not the only City agency responsible. Doesn't the DOH have some duty to inspect a bakery? At the very least given the limits of personnel and fiscal resources they should be keeping each other informed.

    We have become a City willing to turn a blind eye if there is a profit to be made and the City coffers fattened.

  3. Gary DiLeonardo2:11 PM

    Wheat is a hazardous material?

  4. It seems to me that this Nachman Brach (cool name, uncool guy) is quite the disreputable character. He has no respect for the law, and no regard for the rules.

    Because he was careless and selfish these people were driven out into the cold over some wheat in the basement.

    You can't blame the city agencies. Yes, it seems silly on its face...and most likely there would have been no explosion...but they were doing their jobs (we think).

    It is Brach's brazen disregard for the welfare of others that caused this incident to happen. I'd be interested to see what else New York Civic can uncover on this matter. AV

  5. You guys have done a great job updating the site, much better!

    I look forward to hearing much more on Mr. Brach, his rats and his wheat.