Graffiti-Filled Gowanus Bat Cave Still ‘Open’ For Exploration
Urban explorers are a bit like children—if you tell them not to do something, it’s guaranteed they’ll try to do it. So when one such local explorer learned that developer Joshua Rechnitz sealed up the Gowanus Bat Cave to keep out trespassers, he decided to see how easily he could get inside. Turns out, he “got in without much trouble at all,” and sent Curbed his report, along with the 22 photos posted above. The former MTA powerhouse has been abandoned for years, but last fall, Rechnitz (the guy who wanted a velodrome in Brooklyn Bridge Park) purchased the canal-side building for $7 million with plans to turn it into a gallery and artists studios. He’s clearly wasting no time in moving forward with his plans, as several interior floors have already been wiped clean.
This wasn’t the first trip to the Bat Cave for our tipster, and he was curious to see how the place had changed since Rechnitz took over.
As anyone can see from the street, metal panels are now bolted over the windows but the skylights still let in a ton of light. The first few floors have been cleaned up, but the main area on the top floor is still covered in debris. I really hope the people cleaning this shit up are wearing puncture-proof gloves ’cause there are a lot of dirty syringes. What I thought was really interesting is that most of the murals have been replaced with more paint in only a few months. I’ve never seen such a fast graf lifecycle before. Really incredible, I’m glad I decided to go back.
If the Bat Cave really is “gonna be fucking cool” then [Rechnitz] should consider preserving the graf pieces and showcasing them in the developed space. Not pulling them off the walls but by covering them in a special laminant and leaving them in their original spots. Almost all of the works are on the brick and stone outer walls so it seems reasonable to do. I’m just saying it would pretty badass to have an original You Go Girl! mural in your office or apartment!
There’s not much info on what Rechnitz plans to do with the building, but his business partner told the Times that they want to preserve the structure, so there may be hope for preserving some graffiti. However, a comprehensive environmental study and site clean-up needs to happen before any work can take place, and that will undoubtedly take a long time. “In addition to buried coal tar and PCBs, a recent Department of Environmental Conservation study found soil vapors from PCEs, a noxious chemical most often found in dry cleaning facilities, at 10 times legal limits,” reports Gothamist. “An environmental assessment by the last developers put the price tag for soil remediation at $1.375 million, according to graduate research.” In other words, these new studios probably won’t appear anytime soon.