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Bronx icon lighthouse gets new paint job - and owner

Bronx Times

A familiar icon high atop the west Bronx skyline and overlooking the Major Deegan Expressway and Harlem River has taken on a new coat of paint.

That’s because Tuck-it-Away, the storage firm offering space-hungry clients “an extra closet,” moved into the former H.W. Wilson building in Highbridge in November, making the Bronx home to its corporate office. The Bronx already boasts the most Tuck-it-Away facilities throughout the city.

But they’ve marked its territory in the industrial building by changing the color scheme of the former powerhouse publishing company’s unique lighthouse atop the building, a marketing symbol for the old bookmaking house. The beacon’s familiar beige colors were retouched with dark orange tones, reflecting the new firm’s colors.

Inside the industrial-style complex, staffers are still settling into the long corridors of the former book factory, with crews piecing new metallic storage units together. In all, Tuck-it-Away intends to spend upwards of $2 million to renovate the building.

With a breathtaking view of the Harlem River, CEO Nick Sprayregen still has boxes lying around his office. A picture of he and Bruce Springsteen adorns his glass case, along with photos of the Sprayregen clan - three boys and two girls. Sprayregen’s large family is fitting to his business - it’s still family-owned with dad and former Bronxite Gerald having started the mom and pop venture 32 years ago.

Sprayregen moved his corporate office into the Bronx after losing an eight-year eminent domain battle with New York State and Columbia University’s expansion plans. The company was forced to close its three West Harlem offices, including the main office.

“We needed to find replacement property not only for our office but the 1700 storage tenants that we had in West Harlem,” he said. Scouting for a new location, Sprayregen was attracted to the eight-story building at 950 University Ave., particularly its lighthouse, once considered the marketing logo for H.W. Wilson, which surrendered its lease after merging with EBSCO Publishing last year.

Sprayregen was sold on taking over the space along with its five interconnecting buildings along Summit Ave. after just one visit. “Once I saw it I thought it made sense to move in.”

He wasted no time making his presence known to the Bronx by repainting the iconic exterior lighthouse orange.

“By having this prominent light, people will become even more aware of us,” said Sprayregen. “We can spread the word and spread the light of what our mission is.”

On top of offering clients storage, Tuck-it-Away is now considering a business incubator for potential merchants.

“When H.W. Wilson left, they left a tremendous amount of office cubicles and desks,” said Sprayregen, who’s also taken notice at the industrial resurgence of the Bronx.

He said his company will be buying even more buildings to “serve its customers.”

“We’re very bullish on the Bronx.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group