Friday, May 12, 2006

Joshua Guttman makes fire sale

The charred ruins of the city's biggest fire in more than a decade are being used to line the already deep pockets of the ravaged site's owner - who is literally selling the rubble off brick by brick, the Daily News has learned.

Dozens of century-old, giant wooden beams and thousands of bricks from the destroyed Greenpoint Terminal Market are being carted away and sold, sources revealed yesterday.

The red bricks from the warehouses' crushed walls are priced at 15 cents for lots of 10, the sources said.

And magnificent roof beams - cut from durable wood that can be recycled into new flooring - are being hawked for about $1,500 each, the sources said.

Even the beams that were scorched black are selling fast, the sources added.

"Wood is just like toast. Scrape off the burnt part" and it's like new, a source said.

The historic warehouses had been slated for demolition before the suspicious inferno erupted May 2. But preservationists fighting proposed apartment towers on the East River had been hoping to save the warehouses by getting them landmark status.

The 10-alarm fire was the biggest fire in the city in more than a decade, aside from 9/11. The site's owners, Joshua Guttman and his son, Jack, have adamantly denied any role in the fire. No one has been charged.

The bricks and beams began being carted away in huge trucks Wednesday when the elder Guttman, 58, made a rare appearance at the site, escorted by his son.

"You and the media make me guilty," Joshua Guttman yelled at a photographer before driving away in an SUV.

The Guttmans bought the warehouses for $25 million in 2001 and had agreed to sell the site for $420 million last year, but the deal eventually fell apart.

Fire marshals and NYPD arson investigators have been trying to determine the cause of the inferno by digging for evidence amid a 6-foot-deep layer of debris.

Investigators were sifting through the rubble by hand yesterday for the first time when Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta visited to check on their progress.

"I'm happy with the course of the investigation but it's going to take some time," Scoppetta said.

Joshua Guttman's lawyer, Joseph Kosofsky, did not respond to calls yesterday regarding the developer's decision to sell the bricks and beams.

But several Greenpoint residents whose homes were temporarily shrouded by the blaze's black smoke were outraged.

"It's disgusting, but that's business as usual for a person like Guttman," said Phil DePaolo, 45, of the community group the People's Firehouse. "Their interest is always money. That's the bottom line of a developer."


What's he supposed to do with the rubble? I tell you, those selfish business men, always trying to make money.


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