Here’s something surreal for you: Bowery Boogie reports that clean-up is nearly complete at the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery, with much of the graffiti that once covered the landmark building scrubbed from its facade. The only remaining piece of art is a tag from the late street artist Sean Griffin, a.k.a. NEKST, which has been on the building for close to a decade. (It’s pretty much the least that building owner Aby Rosen could do.)
And there’s no way to sugarcoat it: The images of the building now, all shiny and clean, are … weird. For what seems like forever, its granite facade has been slightly dingy, with the ever-present graffiti adding a splash of color and personality; but after a good power-washing, the building actually looks white again. When was the last time that happened?
As Bowery Boogie points out, it remains to be seen if taggers will mark the space up one the cleaning crews have gone away. But considering it was a $55 million investment for Rosen—and that he went back and forth on whether or not the graffiti would remain in the first place, before ultimately deciding to scrape it—we’re not counting on them being welcome back.
Here’s what the building looked like in 2014, before Rosen’s acquisition, courtesy Curbed contributor Nathan Kensinger:
And here it is just a few month ago, via Curbed contributor Bucky Turco, with much of the graffiti still intact:
And here it is now. Whoa.