GOWANUS — He's lost one piece of the Brooklyn skyline, and he's not going to let another one disappear before his eyes.
The demise of the Eagle Clothes sign on Third Avenue and Sixth Street has sparked one man's effort to protect another historic piece of the local landscape: the Kentile Floors sign on Second Avenue and Ninth Street.
Dan Halioua, who grew up a block from the Eagle Clothes sign, was dumbfounded when news broke that the beloved rooftop marquee was being torn down, because he had assumed it was a protected landmark.
Within hours he posted an online petition demanding that building owner U-Haul keep the Eagle Clothes sign, and tt had attracted nearly 250 signatures by Tuesday morning. Another online petition sprang up as well, but the efforts appeared to be too late. All of the letters spelling Eagle Clothes had been removed by Friday.
U-Haul still plans to save parts of the sign and incorporate them into the building when it's expanded by two floors, but the company hasn't made a final decision on how that will be accomplished, a spokeswoman said in an email Monday.
"Both the sign and the symbolic meaning to the community are important to U-Haul," the spokeswoman said. "We will do the best we can with what the law allows."
A rumor that real estate mogul Joe Sitt had purchased the Eagle Clothes sign is untrue, U-Haul Project Manager David Pollock told DNAinfo New York.
For Halioua, the disappearance of the Eagle Clothes sign has been a devastating loss, and he's hoping to avoid another one. His next move is to try to permanently protect the Kentile Floors sign.
The Kentile sign, whose cherry red letters float a few feet away from thousands of F train riders daily, is more well-known than the Eagle Clothes sign. It's been recognized by the Municipal Art Society as a "place that matters."
In February, locals sounded the alarm when a rumor spread that the Kentile sign had a date with the wrecking ball. But a representative for the building on which it sits denied that it was about to be torn down.
Halioua had hoped to get the sign landmarked, but a spokeswoman for the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission said the LPC doesn't landmark individual signs on top of buildings.
"[D]oing so would theoretically restrict how an owner may want to use the building, and the commission’s regulatory jurisdiction does not extend to use," LPC spokesman Elisabeth de Bourbon said. "Therefore, we cannot force a building owner to continue to advertise for a company that is no longer in existence."
Nonetheless, Halioua said he's researching other ways to protect the sign. He's contacted local elected officials for help. He plans to convert his petition about the Eagle Clothes sign into a signature drive for the Kentile Floors sign.
"It might seem a little silly to be talking about a sign," Halioua said. "Obviously there are larger issues we face, but it does tug on the gentrification conversation a little bit, in terms of big corporations taking over and getting rid of the history of things. In my mind, I'm taking a stand against them."
As for the Eagle Clothes sign, locals who were sad to see it go can still keep it close to their hearts. A Park Slope dad, Will Simon, sells T-shirts and onesies bearing the iconic marquee, as well as clothes featuring the Kentile Floors emblem.
Sales of his Kentile shirts picked up after the February rumor of the sign's removal, and in the past week he's seen a slight uptick in his Eagle Clothes merchandise.
Simon started making the Brooklyn-themed baby gear about five years ago when his son was born, and he soon added adult sizes. He said he wanted to make clothes that referenced his home borough, but not in an overt way.
"At the time there were a lot of onesies that said 'Brooklyn,'" Simon said of his foray into baby clothing. "I wanted it to say Brooklyn, but not be so obvious. If someone sees [the Eagle Clothes sign], and they’re from here, they'll know what it is...When you see it, you know it's a certain neighborhood, and it reminds you of your childhood."