Sept 1 “Preservation Push on Bethlehem Steel Building” WGRZ

Originally published by WGRZ.com, “Preservation Push on Bethlehem Steel Building,” by Ron Plants, 2012 09 01.

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — The debate over the City of Lackawanna’s push to demolish the old Bethlehem Steel Administration Building is on hold until late November because of an Erie County Court order. And that may provide more of an opportunity to build support for those interested in preserving the 111 year old structure and its specially crafted facade.

Buffalo Attorney William Magavern tells WGRZ that he and an un-named developer toured around the building on Friday and Magavern says the developer expressed some interest in the building.

At the same time officials with Preservation Buffalo Niagara say that efforts are also underway to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Executive Director Tom Yots says the greater availability of state preservation grants for communities and historic preservation tax grants for property owners and developers make such a structure more attractive for re-use. Yots says up to 40 percent of a project’s costs may be covered by such incentives.  He points to various projects in Buffalo that have been developed with the use of such credits.

Yots and Jason Wilson of Buffalo Niagara Preservation also point out that Elizabeth Martin of the state’s Historic Preservation Office has also visited the building with a structural engineer. They say she felt it could be a stable structure but that more study was needed.

Lackawanna City Attorney Norman LeBlanc says engineers for the city have determined the building is not stable and should be torn down. LeBlanc says he has even told police and firefighters not to enter the structure even for an emergency. The city may again ask the judge to strike down the stay order and allow demolition to proceed.

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