Gentrification Spurs Black-And-White Cookie Company’s Move
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Gentrification Spurs Black-And-White Cookie Company’s Move

Israel Beigel Baking Company says production will continue without pause in Canarsie after sale of Clinton Hill facility.

Amy Sara Clark writes about politics and education. A Columbia Journalism School graduate, she's worked at CBS News, The Journal News, The Jersey Journal, Mom365, JTA and Prospect Heights Patch. She comes to journalism from academia where she earned a master's degree in European History with a focus on Vichy France.

Fans of Beigel's black-and-white cookies can breathe a sigh of relief. The century-old kosher goods company will still supply New York City with its trademark treat, despite the sale of the company’s baking facility, reported earlier this week.

On Wednesday morning, The Daily News reported that a real estate developer had bought the baking facility for the 100-plus-year-old Israel Beigel Baking Company in Clinton Hill, causing fears that the historic company would be shut down.

However, Sam Beigel a member of the family that owns the company, told The Jewish Week Thursday evening that the baking facility is moving to Canarsie and he expects production to continue without pause.

The Israel Beigel Baking Company has been keeping members of the tribe in rugelach and honey cake since the 19th century. The exact date of the company’s birth is unclear, but Joan Nathan reported in the New York Times in 1998 that it had “been in business in Cracow, Poland, for five generations by the time the Germans invaded in 1939.”

During the war, the Germans allowed the Beigel’s to keep their bakery open so they could supply Nazis with bread. Several members of the Beigel family died in concentration camps. The remaining three moved to New York in 1947, Nathan reported.

They rebuilt the company on the Lower East Side and then moved the factory to Williamsburg in the 1950s to expand production, according to Beigel's website. By 1998, the company was churning out more than 10,000 round challahs for Rosh HaShanah, Nathan reported. In the early 2000s it expanded again, tripling its size by moving to Clinton Hill, according to Beigel’s website.

But despite its copious challah production, the company's claim to fame is the black-and-white cookie, which they call their ‘trademark.” According to their website, the company sold more than 50 million of them by the early 2000s.

And now the company is moving again. Beigel’s Clinton Hill factory, a 43,350-square-foot building at 551 Waverly Ave., was bought by Madison Realty Capital for $23.5 million, the Daily News reported. Madison Realty did not respond to a Jewish Week query about the company’s plans for the building, but Beigel said he believed they intended to build an apartment building on the site.

The sale marks yet one more closure of an industrial building to make way for housing as demand continues to rise in Brooklyn — especially in Community District 2, which extends from Brooklyn Heights through Clinton Hill.

“There’s a great deal of gentrification in Community District 2 and developers are looking at any available site for additional residential units,” said Robert Perris, Community District 2’s manager.

“You’re always going to get a higher return from residential development than you’re going to get from industry,” Perris said. “Any site that’s underdeveloped is going to be subject to sales pressure.”

As for how high of a residential tower will be replacing the factory, Perris said the site is zoned for up to 80 feet in height, roughly eight stories.

If built, the building will join a bevy of other concrete-and-stainless steel apartment buildings sprouting up across Brooklyn. It's a trend that has sped up in the last few years as the city recovers from the recession, Perris said.

But for the sake of the black-and-white cookie, let's hope that demand doesn’t reach Canarsie anytime soon.

amyclark@jewishweek.org

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