Friday, March 23, 2007

Peaks Mason Mints

A building towards the end of Henry Street recently caught my eye. It has a giant “Peaks Mason Mints” sign on it and looks to be abandoned. Because I am interested in anything that involves food, I decided to do a quick Google search and see what I found.

Walter Grutchfield’s website (no idea who he is, but I thought I should give him credit) says that Mason PEAKS and Mason MINTS were confectionery products made by the Mason, Au & Magenheimer Confectionery Mfg. Co., which was in existence from 1864 until the 1960’s when it was sold to a number of companies before finally being sold to Tootsie Roll. Mason Peaks was a candy bar with coconut covered in chocolate. Mason Mints were a round, chocolate-covered mint patty. The company also made Dots and Crows, which are still made by Tootsie Roll. I can only imagine how wonderful the neighborhood must have smelled back in the day!

The building’s history turns a bit tenuous after the candy company left. It was first used as artists’ studios and rent stabilized lofts. The project is seen as one of the things that helped to revitalize the neighborhood. But in the complicated world of rent stabilization and subsidies in New York (under the Mitchell-Lama program,) a building’s owner can opt-out of rent stabilization after 20 years, pay back the mortgage to the Department of Housing Preservation and start charging market rates for the apartments. The owners of “The Candy Factory” exercised that right but the building has sat vacant for the last year as the owner battled the 42 residents who used to occupy the building. In November, The Brooklyn Paper reported that even more condos will go up next door. The Real Estate Blog by the New York Observer reported in January that the whole complex is for sale again for $22.5 million. Bargain price, I'll take 2!


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