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Kentile Floors Sign Could Get New Home Beneath Subway Tracks

 The Gowanus Alliance wants to install the famed letters on 10th Street between Second and Third Avenue.
Kentile Floors Sign Could Get New Home Beneath Subway Tracks
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GOWANUS — The iconic sign that once welcomed subway riders to Brooklyn could find a new home on the other side of the tracks.

The Gowanus Alliance is hoping to install the dismantled Kentile Floors sign underneath the elevated subway tracks on 10th Street between Second and Third avenues.

"We see an opportunity to return the Kentile sign and link Gowanus' past with its future," said Paul Basile, president of the Gowanus Alliance, a neighborhood improvement group.

Basile is working with Gowanus by Design to create a rendering showing how the famed letters could be displayed, including possibly suspending them from trusses that support the elevated subway tracks.

The Kentile letters could serve as a draw to get people to explore a quiet corner of Gowanus, Basile said. He says the land beneath the subway tracks could be transformed into a neighborhood green space that could host outdoor markets and other local amenities.

“People could get off the train and walk down to this green space," Basile said. "It would be a great place for us to market Gowanus."

The Gowanus Alliance became the caretakers for the Kentile Floors sign after it was taken down from its perch atop a building on Ninth Street and Second Avenue in June 2014.

The cherry red sign with its distinctive extra-long "T" was once the marker for an asbestos tile factory. It became a beloved part of the Brooklyn skyline, especially for the thousands of commuters who passed within a few feet of the letters each day at the Smith-Ninth Street subway station.

Once the renderings are complete, Basile plans to apply for grant money and approach local businesses about sponsoring individual letters.

The Alliance had considered other locations for the Kentile sign but the block of 10th Street beneath the subway tracks seemed to be the best solution, Basile said. The sign's letters are too big for Ennis Playground and displaying them along the Gowanus Canal could take decades because the polluted waterway is about to undergo a massive environmental cleanup, he said.

The Kentile Floor letters will be refurbished a bit before they're displayed, but not too much, Basile said.

"We want these letters to remain scarred and to show the extent of their journey," Basile said. “We think they tell a story — how they were weathered, how they were abandoned, how they're being brought back. There's beauty in it."

Basile said he's pitching the idea of relocating the Kentile Floors sign now because city officials seem to be paying more attention to forgotten corners in Gowanus.

The City Council approved a budget on Friday that set aside money for upgrades at Ennis Playground on 11th Street near Third Avenue and St. Mary's Playground nearby in Carroll Gardens.

City Councilman Brad Lander allocated $1.85 million toward improvements at Ennis Playground and Borough President Eric Adams pitched in $600,000, a spokesman for Lander said. The St. Mary's Playground upgrades got $500,000 from Lander's office and $350,000 from the borough president's office.

"It seems that local officials are recognizing the need for open space," Basile said.