Demolition of the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building was allowed to continue today after Appellate Judge Rose Sconiers denied a request for a temporary restraining order by the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture.
The group had claimed Gateway Trade Center, which owns the 1901 building, failed to comply with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act.
Originally published as, “Owner of Bethlehem Steel Agreed to Sell Hours Before Demolition Began” on Views of Buffalo, blog by Mike Puma, March 12, 2013.
Concerned citizens, preservationists, and architecture buffs looked on in horror as wrecking equipment attacked the unique architectural features of the Bethlehem Steel Administration building Friday afternoon. A few quick blows to the ornate façade dashed all hope the building would be saved after months of hard work and countless hours by a group of dedicated people. Demolition was halted briefly after a temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued, but resumed after the judge lifted the TRO last Friday.
Included in the 11 Most Endangered Places nomination submitted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, March 1, 2013. Read the full nomination here. Thank you to Jay and Tania from the Preservation League of New York State for your much-need/appreciated support!
Originally published by Mike Puma on Views of Buffalo and Buffalo Rising, “Bethlehem Steel Demolition Halted Due to Illegally Issued Demo Permit,” February 21, 2013.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo successfully filed an Article 78 today, which placed a temporary restraining order on the demolition of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building. This petition argues that the City of Lackawanna issued the demolition permit to Gateway Trade Center without performing environmental review as required by the NYS Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR).
Originally published by Channel 4, WIVB, “Demo of Bethlehem Steel building halted” on February 21, 2013.
Preservationists have successfully halted the demolition of the former Bethlehem Steel administration building.
Crews moved in to begin to tear down the building after a lawsuit between the City of Lackawanna and the building’s owner ended last year with a judge approving the demolition. Part of the building has already been taken down.
On Thursday, the Campaign for Greater Buffalo announced it has succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order pending a hearing next Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court.
Originally published by The Buffalo News, “Court orders halt to demolition at Bethlehem Steel site,” February 21, 2013.
A group of preservationists has won a court order that temporarily stops the demolition at the site of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building in Lackawanna, pending a hearing Wednesday in State Supreme Court.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo and attorney Richard G. Berger on Thursday won a temporary restraining order from acting State Supreme Court Justice Thomas P. Franczyk that, for now, halts the demolition work that began last month on an addition to the long-vacant structure on Fuhrmann Boulevard.
The building originally was scheduled for demolition in May, when the city obtained a court order forcing owner Gateway Trade Center to tear down the Beaux Arts-style building, which dates to 1901.
A 90-day stay granted in Erie County Court to give Gateway time to explore alternatives for reusing the building expired in November, and the company in December hired Zoladz Construction to perform the demolition.
The contractor on Jan. 24 began tearing down a rear chemical laboratory that was added decades after the original building.
Tim Tielman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo said his group is seeking a permanent injunction barring further demolition until an environmental review is performed.
Lackawanna City Attorney Norman A. LeBlanc Jr. said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet seen Franczyk’s order but added that no environmental review is required because a City Court judge ordered the demolition after the building was condemned.
Another group of activists, the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, has sued Gateway, arguing that the company hid a structural engineering report filed in August that determined the building was structurally sound.
DEMOLITION OF BETHLEHEM STEEL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING HALTED:
DEMO PERMIT WAS ISSUED ILLEGALLY WITHOUT PROPER ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) was pleased to learn that The Campaign for Buffalo – History, Architecture & Culture, Inc. today filed an Article 78 Proceeding in New York State Supreme Court, which placed a temporary restraining order on the demolition of the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building in Lackawanna, New York. Their petition maintains that the City of Lackawanna issued a demolition permit to the owner, GATEWAY TRADE CENTER, INC., on December 17, 2012, without performing environmental review as required by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). The suit contends that the demolition permit is therefore a nullity in that it was issued illegally. The Campaign is seeking a permanent injunction on the demolition of the building until full compliance with SEQR is demonstrated. A hearing is scheduled before Hon. James H. Dillon for Wednesday, February 27th at 9:30 a.m.
Richard Berger, Esq., a local attorney with experience in environmental and preservation law, representing The Campaign, stated, “SEQR mandates all agencies of government to prepare an ‘Environmental Impact Statement on any action they propose or approve which may have a significant effect on the environment.’ Even actions which do not require a full Impact Statement, still require careful environmental review and findings. It appears that none was carried out in this instance. We hope that our filing today will halt the demolition of the Administration Building and lead to its ultimate restoration and reuse.”
“The City and Gateway should make every attempt to honor workers who spent much of their lives at Bethlehem Steel. Instead, they’re doing all they can to destroy our heritage, and with it the potential that ‘Old North’ has to create jobs and bring people to the shore of Lake Erie. I for one am relieved that there is an engaged group of citizens continuing to fight for justice, and I am proud to stand with them,” said Romaine Lillis, Lackawanna resident and longtime member of the Lackawanna Historical Society.
There is an open lawsuit filed by LIHG, heard on February 13, 2013 in Lackawanna City Court, regarding the discovery of a previously withheld structural engineering report concluding that the building is structurally sound and of no immediate danger of collapse, as the City of Lackawanna contends. Hon. Judge Marrano reserved judgement in the case but a verdict is expected soon.
LIHG is prepared to cooperate with The Campaign for Greater Buffalo in any way needed.
The imsteelstanding.org website is the best place to stay informed.
Contact David Torke, founding LIHG Member: 716-602-5440 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published by YNN, “A ’13th hour effort’ to save the Bethlehem Steel building” by Kaitlyn Lionti, February 13, 2013.
A 13th hour effort to save the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building is how the attorney representing the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group describes what brought them back to City Court on Wednesday.
The group filed a lawsuit Friday against the building’s owners, Gateway Trade Center. They’re asking the judge to vacate his previous order requiring the building be demolished.
“The decision of the city, originally, to seek demolition was done illegally,” said attorney Richard Berger. “New York State Law, the Environmental Equality Review Act, says that every such demolition case requires at least an environmental assessment. In this case, because it’s a building that’s eligible for the state and national registers of historic places, it’s absolutely required.”
But the attorney representing Gateway Trade says the demolition permits were issued long before Berger’s clients heard from the state about the building’s eligibility for the historic registers.
However, Berger says they have another key piece of new information – an engineering report commissioned by Gateway Trade.
“We found out that the, a hidden report that had never been made available before to us, show that the building is structurally sound, and doesn’t need to be demolished,” Berger said.
Gateway Trade’s attorney says the company never meant to keep the report hidden, and says the building might be structurally sound, but it would have to be taken apart to tell.
The judge will render a decision after reviewing documents submitted Wednesday. He says even if he grants the Heritage Group’s request, he can’t stop Gateway Trade from demolishing the building.
But the group says it’s hoping to work with Gateway Trade and the city to find a way to re-use it.
“All that we need is the will. We’ve got the way. We’ve got a team of professionals standing by to work on this project and there’s funding available that’ll cover the cost of that, so there’s no reason this should not move forward in a positive way,” said Dana Saylor, Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group.
The group says it’s waiting to hear from Gateway Trade about the proposal.
Originally published by The Buffalo News, “Judge reserves decision in building demolition,” February 14, 2013.
Preservationists remained cautiously optimistic Wednesday, after Lackawanna City Judge Frederic Marrano reserved decision on a lawsuit that would vacate a previously issued order allowing the demolition of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building.
Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, which filed the lawsuit Friday, reiterated its hope to meet with the building’s owner, Gateway Trade Center.
It also announced that a reuse team of real estate, planning and preservation specialists headed by Barbara Campagna, former chief architect for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been assembled to assist the company if it decides to take advantage of a $500,000 Restore New York grant.
“We remain committed to sitting down with Steven Detwiler at his earliest convenience to help Gateway reposition the building to take advantage of progress being made along the waterfront,” said preservationist David Torke.
Originally published as “Judge Reserves Decision On Bethlehem Demo” WGRZ Channel 2, February 13, 2o13.
A judge has reserved decision on the latest bid by preservationists to save the former Lackawanna Steel Administration Building from demolition.
An attorney representing the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group appeared before City Court Judge Frederic J. Marrano on Wednesday, to argue there was new information to consider, which had been inaccessible when the same court previously ruled that the demolition of the more than century old landmark, could proceed.
Attorney Richard Berger cited a previously unreleased engineering study, which he claims shows that, despite contentions by the City of Lackawanna that the building was in danger of collapse, it is actually structurally sound.
If that is the case, according to Berger, then the judge should keep the wreckers ball at bay, because the building–which qualifies for historic status, would require a lot more than just a simple demolition permit to raze.
“Under New York State law and the Environmental Quality Review Act, this would require at least an environmental assessment,” said Berger. “In this case, because it’s a building that’s eligible for both state and national registers of historic places it’s absolutely required.”
Berger also says if the structure is not deemed to be in danger of falling down, then it could open the door for hundreds of thousands of preservation dollars from the state to help its owners –Gateway Development– renovate it for an adaptive re-use, if they should so desire.
While demolition had already begun at site, all that’s been taken down thus far has been an outbuilding that once housed a chemistry lab. The actual Beaux Arts administration building, according to Berger, hasn’t been damaged, and is still very much worth saving.
Originally published by fixBuffalo.blogspot.com, “I’m Steel Standing in Court: Part I” written by David Torke, Feb 9, 2013.
The National Register eligible Bethlehem Steel Administration building in Lackawanna, NY has been under direct threat of demolition since May 2012. Over the course of the summer there were numerous attempts made to broker a deal with the building’s owner, however, those efforts ended unsuccessfully. The City of Lackawanna stayed its course and continued to argue for the building’s demolition. In late January, crews from Zoladz Construction began demolition, starting with the chemistry lab located in the back of the building.
Since then, the area’s preservation groups remained silent as if the building’s fate had been sealed. Preservation Buffalo Niagara issued a statement shortly after demolition began last month. “It didn’t have to end this way,” according to PBN’s Executive Director Tom Yots.
As the demolition began, a small group of activists which included Meagan Baco, Lesley Horowitz, Dana Saylor and myself focused on the next steps in saving this historically significant industrial icon.
Our research uncovered a previously withheld structural engineering report conducted last August by Klepper Hahn & Hyatt. This report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and confirmed what we’d already suspected through our own photographic documentation: that the building is structurally sound.
The KHH report’s findings directly contradict Lackawanna Code Enforcement Officer Steven Bremer’s own observations and conclusions about the building’s condition.
It is unsafe to come in…the whole building is going to implode. – Steven Bremer Lackawanna Code Enforcement Officer, May 2012
We believe the overall building structure to be sound and not at risk of imminent collapse. – Klepper Hahn & Hyatt, August 2012
Within hours of reading the KHH report our group reviewed the case with attorney Richard Berger who advised us that there were grounds for a lawsuit. We proceeded to contact two additional attorneys Michael Raleigh and Paul Fusco-Gessick who were also brought in to work on the case. On Thursday, February 7th we held a press conference announcing our findings and our readiness to file the lawsuit against the building’s owner.
On Friday, February 8th a lawsuit was filed in Lackawanna City Court by attorney Richard Berger. The plaintiff is the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, which was formed last year to raise awareness about the industrial history of Lackawanna NY and the building’s history. The group had previously protested the demolition action and in June held a public hearing on the future of the building with professional preservationists and Lackawanna Common Council President Henry Pirowski as panelists.
Hon. Fredderic Marrano has granted a hearing on the matter which is scheduled for February 13 at 1pm in Lackawanna City Court.
Meanwhile, the Court is allowing the demolition to proceed. This image from February 7, 2013 shows the extent of the current demolition activity. The chemistry lab building is mostly demolished. Here’s the May 2012 record image.
In a related matter Lackawanna resident and activist John Nowak has been protesting the building’s threatened demolition with a hunger strike. He’s been camped out in front of the building since mid December. Members of this group remain tremendously supportive of his efforts and would like to encourage you to come down and speak to him and lend your support in any way you can.
For the latest developments and background information about the lawsuit, the building and the building’s significance please join the FaceBook Group Save the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building and visit I’m Steel Standing the official website for this group’s work.
Mike Puma covered the press conference for Buffalo Rising here and Mark Sommer from the Buffalo News, here.
Here’s the full text of the Memorandum of Law filed with Lackawanna City Court and Order to Show Cause that was signed by Judge Marrano on Friday.
Since breaking the demolition story in May 2012, this blog has covered the story continuously. Many of the links are aggregated here: Bethlehem Steel Public Hearing.
Photos by Lisa Willis.
Originally published by YNN News, “Group files another suit against Bethlehem Steel owner” by Katie Cummings, February 7, 2013.
Demolition at Bethlehem Steel started in late January, but the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage group wants all demolition at the site to stop until an investigation can take place.
The group plans to file a lawsuit in Lackawanna City Court on Friday morning after it recently received a report on the structural integrity of the building.
“There were several other reports which were presented to the court which said the building is unsafe, it needs to get knocked down, and this report directly contradicts everything that was in there,” said Paul Fusco-Gessick, Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group attorney.
The group says the report was paid for the owner, Gateway Trade, and conducted by a Syracuse-based architectural firm. It states the walls are upright and the overall structure is not at imminent risk of collapse.
Some members of the group say the owner kept the report a secret because it would interfere with state funding.
“That ruined their chances of getting the Restore NY money and they didn’t want to publicize that, they didn’t want anyone else to know because the city wanted to be able to continue its case,” said Dana Saylor.
Preservationists want the building to be saved since they feel it’s a integral part of the area.
“My husband, who passed away just a month ago, worked there for 42 years and he went through this building to get his job and so I think it’s an icon for the city of Lackawanna, we should have this building,” said Romaine Lilli, Lackawanna Historical Society.
“We now have a time to step back and investigate and look at intelligent re-use of the building,” said David Torke.
YNN reached out to Gateway Trade, but calls were not returned. YNN also contacted city of Lackawanna officials but were told no one was available for comment.
Lawsuit over demo of Bethlehem Steel [Link to Video]
Originally published by WIVB.
The fight to save the old Bethlehem Steel administration building is not over, even though part of the building has already been torn down.
The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group is suing the building’s current owners, claiming the Gateway Trade Group withheld an engineering report from the city that said the building is structurally sound and doesn’t need to be demolished.
Attorney Paul Fusco-Gessick said, “There were several other reports which were presented to the court which said the building was unsafe and needed to get knocked down. And this report directly contradicts everything that was in that.”
This lawsuit will officially be filed in City Court on Friday
Originally published by The Buffalo News, “Activists sue to save Bethlehem Steel site,” by Mark Sommer, 2013 02 07.
Activists still fighting to save the embattled Bethlehem Steel Administration Building announced Thursday they are filing a lawsuit today against Gateway Trade Center, contending the company hid a structural engineering report filed in August that concluded the building was structurally sound.
The lawsuit, filed by the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, urges Lackawanna City Court to immediately halt demolition that has begun on a rear chemical laboratory at the site off Route 5 near the Buffalo city line. The demolition ball has not touched the long-vacant 1901 Beaux Arts-style administration building – with its ornate facade – that preservationists have rallied to save.
“With this lawsuit, we’re hoping we can stop the bulldozers and take the time to do a proper investigation and a proper reuse study,” said David Torke, a member of the group.
The report by Klepper Hahn & Hyatt, based in Syracuse, concluded that the administration building was in better shape than previously thought. It stands in contrast to views expressed by Steven Bremer, Lackawanna’s code enforcement officer, and two prior studies in which engineers did not gain access to the building.
The preservationists obtained the report through a Freedom of Information Law request.
“We believe the overall building structure to be sound and not at imminent risk of collapse at this time. The collapsing ceilings and abundance of debris observed in the building gives a false illusion of the floors collapsing,” the report said.
It recommended the removal of dormers, parapets, chimneys and other areas in danger of collapse; selective demolition to better gauge the building’s health; and sealing all roof and window openings to keep the elements out.
Torke said the two prior studies had been the “ammunition” used by the City of Lackawanna to push for demolition. He also raised concerns that Parker Bay Engineering, which did the first report concluding the property needed to be torn down, shared office space with Empire Dismantlement, the demolition contractor first hired by Gateway before the Erie County Court-ordered demolition at the city’s request was temporarily stayed from May to November. Zoladz Construction Co. was subsequently hired to perform the demolition.
Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt was chosen by Gateway from a list provided by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which suggested a firm with experience in historic buildings. The agency was required to sign off because Gateway sought a state Restore New York grant, which required the engineering report and a reuse study that never materialized. The company indicated it hoped to use the funds for asbestos removal and possibly demolition.
“Gateway has not only been irresponsible in taking care of the building, but they are asking for state money to continue to shrug their responsibility,” preservationist Meagan Baco said.
Dana Saylor, another preservationist, said she hoped the lawsuit will compel Gateway to follow through on the Restore New York funding requirements and conduct the reuse study.
Originally published by Buffalo Rising, “Uncovered Structural Engineering Report Declares Bethlehem Steel Administration Building Structurally Sound” by Mike Puma, 2013 02 07.
The fight is far from over in Lackawanna to save the Bethlehem Steel Administration building. Although demolition at the rear of the building started two weeks ago, it has been halted for the last six days for unknown reasons. So far only the small chemistry lab, which was a later addition, has been demolished. The remainder of the structure remains standing.
New evidence has come to light that the building is in fact structurally sound despite the consistent information to the contrary by the owners of the building, Gateway Trade Center and the mayor of Lackawanna, Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski. Both have insisted that structural and engineering reports for the building have deemed it structurally unsound.
This independent report was withheld from the courts by the City of Lackawanna and the Gateway Trade Center owner, Steven Detwiler. The truth has been revealed thanks to the perseverance of members in the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG), Meagan Baco, David Torke, Lesley Horowitz, and Dana Saylor. Additionally, they received help from two attorneys who are new to Buffalo, Michael Raleigh and Paul Fusco-Gessick. The structural report was obtained by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) request.
The full structural report that was completed by Klepper, Hahn, & Hyatt on August 3, 2012 reveals a different story than the owners and the mayor have been peddling; the building is in fact, structurally sound. To read the full report, click here.
The report details the existing condition of the building and notes the limitations of the study, but ultimately concluded, “We believe the overall building structure to be sound and not at imminent risk of collapse at this time. The collapsing ceilings and abundance of debris observed in the building gives a false illusion of the floors collapsing.” It went on to say, “the steel beams have surface rust however we did not observe major scaling or failure of the major structural elements” and “we did not observe large areas of the floor or roof structure that appeared to be on the verge of collapse.”Once again, the full report can be read by clicking here.
With this new information in hand, the LIHG (plaintiff) has brought a lawsuit against the owner at Gateway Trade Center, Steven Detweiler (defendant) to halt all demolition until an investigation can take place.
Originally published by WKBW Channel 7, “Bethlehem Steel Back in the Spotlight” by Jason Gruenauer, January 25, 2013.
Bethlehem Steel shut its doors in 1983, but its issues persist to this day.
Congressman Brian Higgins continued his fight for former workers on Friday, some who were exposed to radiation while working at the plant. He spoke at a meeting of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, and says the federal government needs to show proof it cleaned up the uranium being rolled at the plant or pay up to those deserving workers.
“The fact of the matter is people have been wronged. They should have been made aware of the exposure, if they were back when it occurred, perhaps precautions could have been made to mitigate the health effects of that,” Higgins said.
In 2010, more than 200 million dollars was paid out to a class of workers employed at the plant from 1949-1952. Now Higgins wants to include all workers who may have been exposed through 1976.
“People unbeknown to them were exposed to something the federal government was responsible for. So it’s really not a question of how much it costs in the end, it’s a question of economic justice,” Higgins added.
Anyone who believes they may have been affected is asked to contact Congressman Higgins’ office. For email and phone listings, head to this site http://higgins.house.gov/contact/.
Meanwhile, just down the road a long standing symbol of Bethlehem Steel has begun to come down. And as crews work on demolition of the administration building, one single protestor remains camped out since last Wednesday, continuing to fight for preservation.
“I just wish someone would step in and give it a reprieve, it deserves it. It is our history, it is our legacy, it is our heritage for Western New York,” protestor John Nowak said.
Originally published by Preservation Buffalo Niagara, ‘It didn’t have to end this way-Demolition work begins at Bethlehem Steel Building” by Executive Director, Tom Yots, January 25, 2013, in their e-newsletter.
It didn’t have to end this way. After months of debate and fervent activity the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building in Lackawanna is coming down. No, indeed, it did not have to end this way. Community activists Dana Saylor and David Torke brought this to the public’s attention in March of 2012 and Lackawanna’s own Danielle Huber with the help of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group provided a vehicle for interested residents to become involved.
In spite of these efforts by the citizenry, the administration and the city council turned their backs on the pleas to allow the building to be saved. Preservation Buffalo Niagara(PBN) spoke on the Certified Local Government program at the community discussion panel that was held in June and brought one of our bike tours out to the site to demonstrate the interest of the public.
PBN also brought in the State Historic Preservation office, first to stop the misuse of Restore New York money set to demolish the building and then to meet with the city and community leaders regarding the Certified Local Government program that would allow Lackawanna to receive lucrative historic preservation grants in return for establishing a preservation ordinance and commission.
The community leaders and the SHPO’s Julian Adams came to that meeting at PBN’s office but the Lackawanna city administration and council were conspicuously absent. Local attorney Bill Magavern, whose family had been connected to Bethlehem Steel a couple of generations back, offered $100,000 of his own money toward the implementation of a plan to save the building.
Still, there was no response from the city or the owner. After conferring with Magavern, PBN contacted the office of the city court judge overseeing the issue as recently as last week to convey the message that Magavern’s offer still stood, and again there was no response from the city.
No, this did not have to end this way. Many people tried to make this work and the public did not object. Instead, there was an outpouring of how much this building meant to people. The comments ranging from words on the significance of its history to heartfelt tributes to its beauty of design and construction showed up regularly in the local media. Many said how many times they had driven by this building and were struck by its timeless beauty and how much it would be missed if it were gone.
Yet in the 30 years it remained vacant, neglected by the owner who had taken over after Bethlehem Steel left the site, no one came forward to advocate for its preservation until the threat was so very real. Here, perhaps, we all have failed by waiting for someone else—a private owner, the municipality, some not-for-profit— to step in and do something to keep it there.
But that did not happen and, instead, it fell victim to neglect and abandonment and, yes, victim to a culture that is not proactive enough to stop these destructive elements before it reaches this point.
Driving down route 5 will not be the same in the future since one of the sites that made people smile will be gone. And, no, it didn’t have to end this way, but it did.
Originally published as “Razing of Bethlehem Steel building begins, but preservationists to continue fight” by WBFO 88.7am, Buffalo’s NPR News Station, by Eileen Buckley, January 25, 2013.
Despite efforts by area preservationists over the last nine months, demolition of the former Bethlehem Steel Administration building in Lackawanna started Thursday. But members of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists say they are not giving up on trying to save the structure.
Preservationist Dana Saylor tells WBFO News although work is underway to tear down the structure, the group will continue to protest to save part of the building.
“Until that facade comes down, we’re not done. And even when that happens, we still are going to be following the money trail. We want to see what the demolition contractors made from this deal,” Saylor said.
Saylor admits preservationists have little legal recourse at this point unless improper demolition practices or asbestos disposals are witnessed.
Citizens working to save the building say Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski and Gateway Trade, which owns the building, has refused to listen to their concerns in stopping the wrecking ball.
“We have asked them to come to the table numerous times and there was never really a genuine attempt to do that,” said Saylor.
“[Szymanski] never asked for community input. He just went ahead and did it. Even when we handed him 600 local signatures from the petition, he still refused to come to the table,” she added.
Preservationists say the 1901 building is eligible for both state and national registers of historic places.
Original press release by Dana Saylor, Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, posted by Mike Puma on Buffalo Rising, January 24, 2013, http://www.buffalorising.com/2013/01/bethlehem-steel-demolition-begun-citizens-gather-at-cathedral-of-industry-protest-failure-of-leaders.html.
The 1901 Beaux Arts-style Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company Administration Building (later known as the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building) is currently falling to the wrecking ball, despite the efforts of local citizens who have spoken out for its adaptive reuse. The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) has learned that Gateway Trade TURNED DOWN several offers of developers to take control of the property, after allowing them to tour the site. Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski refused to listen to the concerns of local citizens, from whom over 600 petition signatures were gathered.
He could have rescinded the City of Lackawanna’s demolition order at any time, but instead, he maintained his entrenched position though the structure poses no threat to public safety. The building is eligible for both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and was recently nominated as a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. LIHG members and the public will gather at the site to document this needless destruction, carried out by Zoladz Contracting and others.
Since the city has no preservation ordinance, though, the fate of the building rests solely in the mayor’s hands. Recently, he declared in The Buffalo News, “it’s time we got more progressive. Bring down that building.” LIHG sees the mayor’s actions as anything but progressive, considering the lost potential this demolition signifies. It has been proven that preservation activities promote economic development, vitality, and sustainable urban growth. The young, educated people moving into Western New York and other historic areas have been shown to do so because of the wealth of history, unique architecture, low cost of living and heritage tourism this region offers.
“It is these attitudes that have caused Lackawanna to decline and make it all the more difficult for the city to ever rise up again,” says Danielle Huber, chair of the LIHG. “We should be building on our strengths, not wiping them out.” Dana Saylor, historian and member of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists agreed, saying, “Adaptive reuse was economically feasible and would have been an excellent way to tie in all the waterfront investment happening along Lake Erie. Now, the area will suffer from the loss of potential that preservation activities would have brought to this site. Interesting redeveloped places like the Hotel@Lafayette and Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, P.A. are a draw!”
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo advised and assisted LIHG along the way, with Executive Director Tim Tielman, who said “Without a preservation ordinance in place, Lackawanna will continue to demolish its historic landmarks under the short-sighted policies of its government. The City must move to become a Certified Local Government, and institute a preservation board so what is happening to Bethlehem Steel, and what happened to St. Barbara’s, will not befall other important places.”
Citizens are encouraged to contact the Mayor of Lackawanna’s office, and the building owners: Gateway Trade, get involved in future preservation activism, and consider a contribution to a local preservation organization of their choice. Members of the public, especially former employees of the company, are invited to witness the demolition this week, and speak out.
Originally published by Buffalo Spree, “An Outrage in Lackawanna” by Elizabeth Licata, January 25, 2013.
As it looked in the summer of 2011.
In what universe does a magnificent structure like this get thrown into a landfill? Imagine if this building were located in the Elmwood Village area or in Parkside. Given the fact that lesser endangered structures throughout the city have been preserved and reused, I feel confident that the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building (aka North Office) never would have been allowed to reach such a deplorable impasse in 21st century Buffalo. Maybe I am naïve, but I am treating this as a tragically unfortunate throwback to a stupider time.
In any case, as I write this, the North Office is being demolished, starting at the rear of the building.
We wrote about the North Office and its central role in Buffalo’s early steel industry in September, 2011. Since at least that time, local preservation activists have been raising awareness of its plight with meetings, press conferences, petitions, and outreach to the owners and city officials, all apparently to no avail.
The astoundingly unenlightened mayor of Lackawanna, NY must think he’s living in the bulldozer-happy fifties and sixties. With absolutely no future plan for the empty site from owners Gateway Trade and zero outreach to possible developers—in fact, it now appears that developers were actively discouraged—Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski has ordered that Gateway demolish the North Office. Why he’s in such a hurry to get rid of a structure that isn’t posing any kind of threat is anybody’s guess.
I have visited the building several times, though I’ve never been inside. It does not seem to endanger public safety—its location alone makes that unlikely. It’s anybody’s guess as to why it urgently needs to be taken down.
The possible reuses for this structure include many nonprofit and commercial options—its incredible architecture details would be a fitting counterpoint to the scenic beauty that is finally unfolding along the outer harbor as walks and parks are gradually added to the formerly bleak expanse. It will take a while to make the outer harbor a suitable place for recreation and commerce, but the North Office could have played a major role. Given time, imagination, and resources, this building could have become …
We’ll never know.
Originally published by The Buffalo News; “A chilly crusade for a doomed landmark.” by Denise Jewell Gee, 2013 01 20.
An icy wind sliced through John Nowak’s blue nylon tent.
It was Day 3 and 22 degrees. A thin layer of snow covered the sidewalk outside the shuttered Bethlehem Steel administration building. Nowak’s lonely tent listed in the wind.
Nowak had been camping outside the building for three days, and he hoped to stick out the frigid nights as long as he could in one last push to save it from demolition. His protest involved a couple of sleeping bags, a few blankets and the occasional warm-up in his 1993 Cadillac Seville.
Nowak wanted to draw attention to the plight of the 111-year-old building. I wanted an answer to a question: What drives someone to camp out in bone-chilling temperatures for a boarded-up building that has sat empty for years?
It was easy to write off Nowak’s sidewalk camping campaign as a bit on the dotty side. The wind whipped by. He shoved his bare hands into his jeans pockets. The temperature overnight had dipped to 14 degrees.
Surely, there are easier avenues on which to wage a preservation fight. There are letters and petitions. Phone calls and email. But those had already been done by a group trying to save the building, and Nowak had struck on a tactic just odd enough for people zipping by on Route 5 to take notice.
“I’m just trying to bring attention to this beautiful building, the design. The copper craftsmanship on top is exquisite, the stonework above the windows,” said Nowak, dressed in heavy boots, three layers of sweaters under a Columbia jacket and a wool cap. “All of it is a work of art.”
Unfortunately, it’s a work of art headed for destruction after decades of neglect. Once the administrative center of the city’s steel giant, it’s slated for court-ordered demolition after Lackawanna determined it was unsafe.
This is not Nowak’s first crusade for the Bethlehem Steel site. Back in the early ’90s, he carried a placard to protest a proposal to build a tire-burning energy plant on the property.
What really burns Nowak is the city’s lack of waterfront. “It’s completely shut off,” Nowak said. “There’s been no public access for Lackawanna for 100 years.”
Nowak, 47, runs a lawn-care business in the summer. When he gave up snowplowing, it left his winter days free. It also left a lot of free time to dream about what the waterfront could be. He’s drawn up a sprawling vision to turn the hundreds of acres of former Bethlehem land into a waterfront park with a stadium, condos and more.
It’s a dream. The land is privately owned, and Nowak is just one citizen expressing his hopes.
Already, though, his small crusade outside the Beaux Arts-style building is drawing attention. Television crews came to interview him. A woman stopped to see what she could do.
Some people have campaign donations and political juice. But a guy like Nowak? He needs another tactic to get the attention of politicians.
Can his camp-out save the building? It’s not likely, but who knows?
“If it happens, it just happens,” Nowak said of the demolition. “All we can do is try our best. That’s why I’m out here. This is the last effort.”
He won’t be standing in the way of the demolition trucks. He conceded that high winds might force him to go home. But that won’t stop him from dreaming about what the waterfront could be.
Originally published by WGRZ, “Lonely Vigil at Beth Steel Building Facing Demolition.”
If you drive the Skyway, you may have noticed the old Bethlehem Steel Administration building, that is slated to be demolished, is still standing.
That building remains intact for now despite all the predictions and expectations over the past few weeks that demolition would get underway.
It probably will happen at some point. But for now it is all quiet at the location on Fuhrmann Boulevard. There are excavators parked nearby and a contractor’s construction site trailer.
But right now the only person there is John Nowak who is a member of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage preservation group.
He has set up this tent and brought his sleeping bag and other supplies to weather the cold near the lake while he stages his lonely vigil and protest.
And he is determined to stay for now even at the risk of getting arrested. Nowak says police said it might happen but they have apparently accepted his presence for now.
Nowak says he would like to see the front portion and façade of the building saved for possible use as a museum or office space as part of a waterfront development plan. But he says he does not know if any developer would step forward to save it.
As for the actual demolition, we determined there was some asbestos abatement in the building. But there are still some issues to be resolved for the demolition contractor to really start tearing it down.
There is still a court order in place obtained by the City of Lackawanna for the building site owner Gateway to tear it down.
City officials say preservationists don’t realize how unstable and dangerous the building really is.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has just shared our story to nearly 40, 000 of their Facebook followers in support of I’m Steel Standing and the preservation of the Bethlehem Steel building!
“Preservation words of wisdom needed! Over the past few months, a grassroots group of Buffalonians has braved the winter elements to help save the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building, a 1901 Beaux Arts masterpiece now slated for demolition. This week, fencing went up and crews started moving in.
What advice do you have for preservation battles that are entering their 11th hour? Share it in a comment and wish our Buffalo friends good luck on Twitter using #imsteelstanding. Also, visit http://imsteelstanding.org/ to learn more about this beautiful building.”
Originally published by Buffalo Rising, “Bethlehem Steel, Going Going Gone?” by David Steele.
Based on recent activity witnessed around the old Bethlehem Steel North building on Route 5 in Lackawanna it looks as if the structure is likely to be demolished within the next few days. New fencing has gone up and heavy equipment has been moved in. This is a major piece of Western New York history – American history actually. It is going to be thoughtlessly destroyed. Much of Buffalo and WNY was built from activity conducted within this building. The United States won the war in Europe and Japan in no small part due to what was done inside this building. It is important historically and it is important for its architectural craft and beauty but it will be destroyed because of small thinking.
“Completed in 1901, this Beaux-Arts masterpiece would become the administration building for Bethlehem Steel’s mill in Lackawanna, NY. During the 1940’s this was the largest steel mill in the United States, but little is left of its enormous campus now. Following the mill’s closure in 1982, much of the site was razed and this administration building wound up in the ownership of Gateway Trade Center.
By all accounts, GTC cares very little for the history of the area and for efforts to preserve the building. They have left it open to the elements for nearly two decades and rejected proposals from interested developers and preservation groups that have tried to save the building. It seems clear that their intention all along has been to let the building fall apart until it is no longer salvageable and then tear it down. While there are areas of the roof and interior that have deteriorated badly the facade is salvageable and I have seen many projects where buildings in this condition are restored, much to the benefit of the community and culture around it.
GTC appears to have got its wish, however, as demolition may begin as early as today on this site despite a fierce battle by preservationists in the area who would like to keep even a small part of the mill’s history alive for future generations. If you would like to aid their efforts please visit their website http://imsteelstanding.org/ – they desperately need support not through finances but in merely making phone calls on its behalf to demand that the demolition permits are revoked and this iconic site is kept. “
Originally published as, “Grand old buildings have a story to tell,” by Erin St. John Kelly, OpEd for The Buffalo News, January 1, 2013.
I bring everyone who visits me in Buffalo on a tour of its vestigial heavy industry – the grain-storing and shipping, steel-smelting, car-making Buffalo. I love its earnest heart. The grand finale of the tour is a Beaux Arts columned building of stone, marble and copper that lies on the shore of Lake Erie at the edge of town, where it turns into Lackawanna.
I felt like the building was a secret. It is behind a chain-link fence, surrounded by overgrown bushes. It seemed forgotten, so I wasn’t worried about it going anywhere between my tours. I didn’t know it had a name, or what purpose it once had.
Mystery revealed. It’s the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building. I know this because Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski wants to demolish it. Recently, a court order was lifted giving the green light for demolition. What an awful way to kick off 2013 for Buffalo architecture. Panicked preservationists are picketing, petitioning and begging him not to do it. My only hope is that Rep. Brian Higgins will see the beauty and possibility in saving Bethlehem Steel to make it a part of the waterfront development he supports.
Buildings tell stories about “when” and “how” and, perhaps most essentially, “why” a place is. A city’s children need to know, its immigrants need to know, its visitors and regular citizens need to know about the hard work and great wealth that built this place so they can know what’s possible. History is inspiration.
Buffalo, Lackawanna and Niagara Falls have downtowns like once handsome faces smashed and flattened. There are gaping holes like punched-out teeth in once tight rows of houses and stores. Entire blocks are flat and weedy. Over the last 50 years, they have been cleared in the name of progress, which turned into buildings not built and parking lots for cars not coming.
It doesn’t have to go this way. In the two years I have lived here, two grand hotels that had been horrible embodiments of decline have been reopened. Their renovations have begun to revive the area and general optimism about the city. It can be done with Bethlehem Steel.
A year ago, Buffalo hosted the National Preservation Conference. Tourists and preservationists roamed the city praising its architecture. Szymanski stubbornly refuses to entertain any plan but immediate demolition for Bethlehem Steel. Sadly, he can’t picture a grand public space where the citizens of his town once lined up to get their paychecks. But preservationists can. We have real reuse plans. We need the government to help us.
The owners of Pennsylvania-based New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. were allowed to let the building deteriorate to the point that it is forcing a demolition. I hope someone has the imagination to see his name on a plaque, to create a legacy for his family name and for Western New York.
One of Buffalo’s great shames is the 1950 demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building. But it also has some significant saves, like Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building. Even children gasp at its ornate engravings and carvings of terra cotta and copper. That building is on a different tour I give, one I’d like to be able to add the Bethlehem Steel Building to. The field where the Larkin Building’s broken pieces were dumped and buried is on the way to the Bethlehem Steel Building. Please help so that my tour’s grand finale isn’t a similar site in Lackawanna.
Video by Brian Pickard.
Video by Christopher Byrd, Broadway Fillmore Alive.
Originally published by WGRZ, “Judge Upholds Demo Order for Bethlehem Bldg” by Dave McKinley, 2012 11 28.
LACKAWANNA, NY – Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case has upheld a demolition order, clearing the way for the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building to be razed.
Preservationists are left disappointed but “not surprised” with the judge’s order which denied a stay of demolition, according to Dana Saylor, a local historian and member of the Buffalo Young Preservationists group.
Saylor and members of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) still delivered petitions to Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski on Tuesday afternoon , in hopes of convincing him that many are interested in saving the structure.
An event hosted by the group last Sunday called “I’m Steel Standing”, drew nearly 100 local residents and former employees to the site, as part of push for an adaptive reuse similar to those undertaken in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which had been the headquarters of Bethlehem Steel until 1995.
Online and paper petitions have been circulated (with over 500 signatures gathered), a website has been built, which received over 2,000 visits in less than a week, a short film was made, and a whirlwind of media attention has been focused on the building, which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Saylor, LIHG seeks to build consensus, and has presented several adaptive reuse ideas, connected the owners (Gateway Industries) to historic tax credit specialists, and is willing to be the conduit to potential developers.
LIHG is calling on the City to relinquish its efforts to force demolition, and rather to pursue Certified Local Government status, which will open the doors for grant money and a meaningful dialogue about preservation’s economic development benefits. LIHG asks GatewayTrade to issue a formal Request for Proposals, and properly board up the building in the meantime.
Originally published by the Buffalo News, “Judge lifts stay of demolition on former Bethlehem Steel building,” by Mark Sommers, 2012 11 27.
The former Bethlehem Steel administration building in Lackawanna moved closer to demolition today after an appeal was rejected by an Erie County Court judge.
A 90-day stay had been issued by Judge Kenneth F. Case to give time to Gateway Trade Center, the building’s owner, to explore alternatives to demolition.
But in Case’s courtroom today, no alternatives were presented by the company’s lawyer, who also didn’t dispute the City of Lackawanna’s contention – rejected by preservationists – that the building was not salvageable.
Instead, the attorney for Gateway – a subsidiary of New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. of New Enterprise, Pa. – argued that demolition was costly and that more time was needed. The city’s attorney argued that was not its concern.
Case said he had no alternative but to uphold the order of demolition obtained earlier by the City of Lackawanna.
Gateway had been in discussions with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to develop a plan and prepare a full structural analysis of the three-story, Beaux Arts-style 1901 building, with its ornate facade that includes graceful columns and decorative Corinthian pilasters, pediments and dormers.
Preservationists have urged that the decaying building be saved for its architectural and historic value as an iconic building from the region’s industrial era.
The “I’m Steel Standing” event last Sunday outside of the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building, drew nearly 100 local residents and former employees to the historic site. For several months now, the push has been on to engage local residents in an intense campaign of increasing support for the landmark’s adaptive reuse. Online and paper petitions have been circulated (with over 500 signatures gathered), a website has been built, which received over 2,000 visits in less than a week, a short film was made, and a whirlwind of media attention has been focused on the building, which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
With Judge Kenneth Case set to issue a decision on the stay of demolition in Erie County Court Tuesday morning, the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) is continuing to speak out, and canvass local neighborhoods. Petition signatures will be delivered to Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski on Tuesday, November 27th. LIHG will meet in front of Lackawanna City Hall, 714 Ridge Road at 3pm, and the media and public are invited.
Despite the fact that the State Historic Preservation Office has declared the building structurally sound, this important part of our cultural heritage is under threat of demolition by both the City of Lackawanna, and its private owners, Gateway Trade. LIHG seeks to build consensus, and has presented several adaptive reuse ideas, connected the owners to historic tax credit specialists, and is willing to be the conduit to potential developers. LIHG is calling on the City to relinquish its efforts to force demolition, and rather to pursue Certified Local Government status, which will open the doors for grant money and a meaningful dialogue about preservation’s economic development benefits. LIHG asks Gateway Trade to issue a formal Request for Proposals, and properly board up the building in the meantime.
For more information, please contact the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group at (716-253-7775), visit http://www.imsteelstanding.org or email email@example.com.
Originally published by Buffalo Business First, “Rail switch may spur Lackawanna redevelopment“, by Jim Fink 2012 11 19.
Large portions of the former Bethlehem Steel property could be ready for major, private-sector investments in the next few years, thanks to relocating a short line rail line that services much of the land.
A complex multi-party agreement, with legal documents as thick as two Manhattan phone books, has cleared the way for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to move ahead with long-stated plans of moving an existing South Buffalo Railway line back from its current location along the edges of Route 5 and deeper into the Bethlehem Steel property. The relocated line will open an estimated 400 acres of prime real estate and allow groups like the ECIDA and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise as well as commercial brokerage firms to market the property.
The Bethlehem Steel property has already landed one new tenant — Canadian-based Welded Tube Inc., that next year hopes to open a speciality steel making plant there next year that could employ as many as 125 workers.
“It took a lot of negotiations and it took a lot of parties to get everything on the table,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “We not only got it done, but we are returning steelmaking to the Bethlehem property.”
The site work is being handled by Zoldaz Construction, the lowest of seven bidders, while the rail work is being done by Syracuse-based Frank Tartaglia Inc., the lowest of six bidders.
All of the rail work should be completed by next fall.
Originally published by The Times Tribune, “Historic Scranton furnaces eyed as heart of new Iron District,” by Jim Lockwood (firstname.lastname@example.org), 2012 11 13.
The historic Scranton Iron Furnaces, which helped forge the Industrial Revolution, now could have a bustling future as the heart of a new “Iron District” in the city.
That’s the vision of a group of stakeholders that has begun efforts to transform the four-acre furnace site at 159 Cedar Ave. into a more-active, vibrant community and tourist destination.
Under an admittedly ambitious concept, the massive remnant of a bygone era would possibly become home to artist studios, a restaurant and microbrewery – all situated inside the furnaces’ several-feet-thick walls, said Maureen McGuigan, Lackawanna County’s deputy director of Arts and Culture who leads an “Iron District steering committee.”
“It would be a living, breathing historical site,” Ms. McGuigan said. “In our grand vision, you’d be able to go inside the furnaces.”
The steering committee, which has been meeting periodically for nearly a year, includes representatives of various entities, such as the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area, Keystone College, the University of Scranton, Lackawanna County, the City of Scranton, United Neighborhood Centers, Scranton Tomorrow, the Pop-Up Studio, McLane Associates landscape architects and DX Dempsey architectural firm, according to Ms. McGuigan.
A description and artist’s rendering posted on DX Dempsey’s website and Facebook page states, “The design concept is to allow the user to explore all of the interesting spaces within the furnaces. The team has imagined a center bustling with activities, including a restaurant, microbrewery, large meeting spaces, as well as interpretative and interactive displays related to the arts, the history, and the production that was once born in the spaces left behind.”
An Iron District designation would be a branding/marketing tool linking the downtown with South Scranton, by stretching from Bogart Court behind Lackawanna Avenue – a part of the “Renaissance at 500” redevelopment project – to the 700 block of Cedar Avenue.
The “keystone” of such a district would be the furnaces, which were originally operated by the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Co. between 1840 and 1902 and which were the site of the first mass production in the United States of iron T-rails for railroads.
An Iron District also would encompass other South Scranton revitalization projects. Those include the United Neighborhood Center’s Elm Street project, and a “gateway” project that aims to coincide with an eventual state Department of Transportation upgrade of the intersection of Cedar Avenue, Orchard Street and the two ramp lanes of the Central Scranton Expressway, to make the junction more pedestrian-friendly and extend the look and feel of the iron furnaces to the South Side gateway at Cedar and Orchard.
Noting the furnace site is “the downtown’s backyard and South Scranton’s front yard,” steering committee member Wayne Evans, who also is a member of the South Side Residents Association, said, “We’re trying to create this synergy between that (Cedar Avenue) area and the furnaces.”
Owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the furnace site is administered by the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces. Efforts made Monday to reach both state agencies were unsuccessful.
According to the museum’s website, the four surviving stone blast furnaces are remnants of an extensive plant of the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Co. and represent the early iron industry in the United States. Started in 1840 as Scranton, Grant & Co., the firm had the largest iron production capacity in the United States by 1865. Historical accounts state the blast furnaces were constructed between 1848 and 1857.
By 1880, the furnaces poured 125,000 tons of pig iron, which was converted in its rolling mill and foundry into T-rails and other end products. In 1902, the company dismantled the plant and moved it to Lackawanna, N.Y., to be closer to high-grade iron ores.
A few years ago, a vaulted arch that spans the back of the furnace structure and supports the rear stacks had a minor structural failure, and this damage was repaired in August.
In recent years, the museum also has increased efforts to promote the furnaces as attractions and draw crowds. Last month, the second annual Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces followed a lighting up of the furnaces for a First Friday event. The third annual South Side Farmers Market moved this summer to the furnaces. In September, an inaugural Scranton Cultural Crossroads Festival also was held there. And in June, the furnaces hosted the third annual Arts on Fire Festival, which included a Fire at the Furnace fundraiser.
The steering committee also has looked to ArtsQuest, a nonprofit firm that has been involved in revitalizing the former Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem, Ms. McGuigan said.
In 2011, ArtsQuest and other public and private partners launched SteelStacks, an arts and cultural campus at the former Bethlehem Steel plant that closed in 1995.
The Iron District concept is in the early planning stage and the next step would be a preliminary study that the committee hopes to have done next year, Ms. McGuigan said. Such a review may cost around $30,000 and possibly could be funded by grants or contributions from stakeholders, she said.
A preliminary study would help form a fundraising basis for a more-extensive feasibility study, she said. As a result, it could take several years for an Iron District to fully come to fruition, she said.
“Part of the problem is we don’t even know if a lot of it is feasible,” Ms. McGuigan said.
Mr. Evans added of the idea of having studios, restaurant and/or a microbrewery inside the furnaces, “That may or may not be the end result. We’re just thinking outside the box of what it could be.”
Ms. McGuigan said of the furnace site, “We need to make it a living part of the community and make it sustainable. We’re trying to be proactive.”
Mr. Evans added, “It’s such a natural fit. It’s something that we probably should have done or talked about years ago.”
Originally published by Buffalo Business First, “Group fights to save Lackawanna landmark,” 2012 11 19.
Residents and supporters have re-ignited the battle to save the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building from demolition.
Even though it has been decades since Bethlehem Steel shutdown in Lackawanna, leaving the building vacant, many believe the structure still has potential.
The building has been standing since the early 20th century. It carries the history of Buffalo’s glory days — when so many middle class Americans worked in the steel industry.
Now there is talk of bringing the building down.
Joe Peluso, whose father worked at Bethlehem Steel for decades said, “I don’t see the need to tear it down. It’s a national landmark, it’s part of our history here in Buffalo.”
An Erie County Court has put off demolition for at least a little longer. Meanwhile dozens are coming together, hoping to save the building once and for all.
The building has been abandoned since the 1980’s. It is now stained with graffiti, mold and broken glass.
Dana Saylor, who organized Sunday’s rally, has collected about 400 signatures in a petition drive to keep the structure standing.
Originally published by YNN, “Preservationists hope to keep Steel Site Alive,” 2012 11 18.
LACKAWANNA, N.Y.- “I love this building,” said Judy Kogut. “My father worked at the steel plant and my aunt lived down the road there, and since I was a little girl we’d go past this building and every time we passed it I though how beautiful it was.”
Kogut is talking about the old Bethlehem Steel Office Building just off Route 5 in Lackawanna. Ever since the plant closed back in 1983, the building has been dormant. Now vacant and in disrepair, the building is slated for demolition.
The current owners Gateway Trade Center were ordered by a Lackawanna judge to demolish the building over the summer, but a 90 day stay of demolition was issued by an Erie County judge in August. That stay is set to expire Thanksgiving Day.
Now, the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group is hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve.
“We’re here to save it today and to draw awareness to it because it’s privately owned and it’s slated for demolition if someone doesn’t step forward to reuse it. So we want to make sure people understand the possibilities and the economic viability of adaptively reusing the structure,” said Dana Saylor.
Preservationists believe that the century old Beaux Arts style building, if used right, could be an important part of a revitalized waterfront.
“We could see a boutique hotel, we could see an employment center with technology, we could see an aquarium, we could see an historic museum,” said Saylor. “All of these things create jobs for people.”
“I’ve heard they want to use the area for a warehouse,” said Michael Hanna. “Why can’t they just save the facade and use the back as a warehouse or something?”
A date has not been set for demolition. Preservationists are collecting petitions signatures they plan to present to the Mayor of Lackawanna by the end of the month, but it may be too little too late to save this piece of history.
“If it gets torn down, a big part of this area’s going to be missing, and I know I’ll feel really bad,” said Kogut.
Originally published on Channel 7 WKBW, “Group Hopes to Save Bethelem Steel,” by Rachel Elzufon, 2012 11 18.
Sunday afternoon local residents and supporters re-ignited the battle to save the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building from demolition.
Even hough it has been decades since Bethlehem Steel shutdown in Lackawanna, leaving the building vacant, many believe the structure still has potential.
The building has been standing since the early 20th century. It carries the history of Buffalo’s glory days — when so many middle class Americans worked in the steel industry. Buffalo lay along the rust belt.
Now there is talk of bringing the building down.
Joe Peluso, whose father worked at Bethlehem Steel for decades says “I don’t see the need to tear it down. It’s a national landmark, it’s part of our history here in Buffalo.”
An Erie County Court has put off demolition for at least a little longer. Meanwhile dozens are coming together, hoping to save the building once and for all.
Peluso says “to think about it — if the steel plant wasn’t here, where would a lot of us be today? Would we have the house, the education that we have today?”
The goal of those rallying to save the building is to educate people about Bethlehem Steel’s history in the Queen City. Tens of thousands worked there, even contributing to World War II.
Mary Horowitz explained “They had the planes and ships and tanks — here at the Bethlehem Steel Plant they had one ship after another being built.”
The building has been abandoned since the 1980’s. It is now stained with graffiti, mold and broken glass.
Yet, it remains an architectural beauty remains, leaving many to believe it still has a bright future, maybe as a museum or other business.
Dana Saylor, who organized Sunday’s rally, says “hopefully a developer will come along who wants to turn it into anything from mixed use, boutique, retails, restaurant.”
Saylor is organizing a petition. In the last week, it has collected about 400 signatures. The goal is to get to a thousand.
Originally published on WIVB, “Bethlehem demo issue due in court soon,” by Lou Raguse, 2012 11 18.
Link to video: Bethlehem demo issue due in court soon
LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many preservationists protested outside the old Bethlehem Steel building otherwise known as the “Diamond of Lackawanna” to prevent its demolition.
The 90 day stay of the demolition order expires this week and a judge will rule again by the end of the month whether the building can be knocked down.
Although people say it employed thousands of people over the years, it hasn’t employed anyone in 30 years.
Windows are smashed, but the deterioration on the outside is nothing compared to what the city officials say is inside.
The city’s code enforcer says the second and third floor ceilings have collapsed and the floors are unstable.
The city has a court order for demolition, but in August, a judge extended a stay 90 days to give the building’s owner more time to file an appeal.
The 90 day stay expires Thanksgiving day and a judge will rule again on November 28th.
The preservationists would like to see the building fixed up and developed into maybe a shopping center, hotel, or restaurants; something to draw people to the area once again.
Andrea Haxton from Lackawanna says, “It’s not going to come back to that or anything, but we have to do something to tie Lackawanna in to all the good stuff happening in South Buffalo here. This would do it for us.”
Preservationist Bill Magavern says he pledged a significant amount of money to restore the building, but is disappointed there doesn’t seem o be a plan of what can be done with it.”It’s very difficult to save a historic building if the owner and municipality are not dedicated,” he says.
The protesters still hope the building can be saved.
The newly formed Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group hosted their first public hearing on the future of the Bethlehem Steel North Office building last week. Artvoice covered the hearing and Spree Editor Elizabeth Licata discussed the public hearing with WBFO in this interview. The full audio of the evening’s hearing is now available.
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.
Originally published by The Buffalo News, Letter to the Editor, “Steel plant building can honor workers” by Mary Horowitz, 2012 10 11.
With reference to the recent letter about preserving the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building, my view is quite different. Her letter referred to the dangerous and soul-destroying labor the workers had to endure, and she could see no reason for preserving a building that brought back so many bad memories. I sympathize with that point of view and can completely understand it.
My own father was a factory worker for 43 years, fortunately not tending a blast furnace or in a dangerous position. But he was a part of the 20th century industrial force that saved this country, indeed the world, during World War II and that created the vast middle class that was America of that time. Because of my father’s hard work, his children and grandchildren were able to go to college and get advanced degrees. From poor farm boy to factory worker to professional in two generations, that was his accomplishment and for that I will remember him with my undying thanks and respect.
His was the story of millions of factory workers, including those at Bethlehem Steel. Yes, the corporate executives and owners profited greatly; that’s the story of capitalism. But those who worked so hard in the factories should be honored for their accomplishments and toil.
The blast furnaces, tall chimneys and grimy buildings are gone, and some would say good riddance. But the elegant and dignified Administration Building, which has stood since the earliest days of the company, should be seen as a symbol honoring all those generations of men and women who worked so hard to support their families and to raise their children to find their own successes and accomplishments. There could be no more beautiful reminder and memorial.
On May 15, I discovered that the Bethlehem Steel North Administrative building was going to be demolished. There was a sign posted regarding the demolition on the backside of the building where the public eye would not be able to see it. In addition, the demolition equipment was strategically located behind the building as well. Gateway Trade Center intended on erasing this 1901 Beaux Arts beauty from the waterfront’s landscape without anyone knowing until it would be too late. But thanks to a couple of dedicated urban explorers/bloggers/activists, the cat was out of the bag, so to speak.
This industrial, historic, bitter-sweet building has been dormant for the last 30 years… longer than I’ve been on this planet. Critics have asked why preservationists are just stepping in now. They want to know where everyone has been for the last 30 years or even 20 years. Well, I cannot answer that. What I can say is that I (we) am here now. I am old enough, educated enough, and worldly enough to be able to try to do something… not for me, but for everyone.
Many of Lackawanna’s people have fond memories of this building that was designed by Lansing Holden. They have driven past to say their good-byes. Thankfully, however, the demolition has been postponed. With the passionate and tireless efforts of preservation gurus, Buffalo Young Preservationists, and concerned citizens, the demolition has been temporarily halted. It has been discovered that this copper ornamented, terra cotta structure was not in as rough of shape as Lackawanna wanted you to think. It was also learned that Gateway was receiving a $500,000 grant for Restore New York Communities Initiative to assist in demolition fees. Gateway tried to use those funds without completing the required adaptive-reuse study beforehand. They have now lost those funds and have to use their own money to demolish the building. The postponement buys time to get this grand building on the National Register of Historic Places as well develop more implementable reuse plans.
Mayor Szymanski has been quoted saying, ”I am tired of hearing about our glorious past. I think preservation societies are only trying to preserve what once was, as opposed to moving our region in a positive direction.” Americans, including Szymanski, are entitled to their opinion, but I can’t help but wonder if the Lackawanna Mayor is educated with the benefits of preservation. Preservation is authentic and helps to retain the fabric of an area, it is a green option, it creates jobs, brings in tourists, it is economically a wise decision for many reasons, and we owe it to future generations to keep fundamental elements from the past.
The bigger question here is, how come the city of Lackawanna didn’t enforce building codes since Gateway took ownership? If Gateway would have buttoned-up the building better and would have maintained it to code, the building would not have experienced the weathering and deterioration that it has experienced. It also would not have been victim to vandalism.
The Bethlehem Steel North Administrative building is just a few yards away from the city line. It is located on Lake Erie’s waterfront. It is the terminus of the Outer Harbor. The same Outer Harbor that has been revitalized over the last two summers. As progress continues to head in the direction of Lackawanna, this building will be fundamental. The adaptive-reuse possibilities are practically limitless. If the building goes, I am confident that we will regret it in the future when it is too late.
Originally published by Buffalo Spree, “Help save the Bethlehem Steel Administration Bldg.” by Danielle Wayne, 2012 11 14.
As Spree explained in a Preservation Ready column in September 2011, the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building in Lackawanna has long been precariously close to demolition: “In the six months that Spree has been publishing this series on endangered buildings, no property has been as close to demolition as the old Lackawanna Steel Company main office. And few other buildings are as closely bound to Buffalo’s economic history.”
That was 2011, and recently, a court order was issued for its demolition. But the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group is hoping to change that. The group has formed a petition to stop the demolition, instead calling for restoration. You can sign the petition here.
The Beaux Arts style building designed by Lancing Holden opened in 1901 and served as offices, a police station, and more in its lifetime. The LIHG calls it “fundamental to Lackawanna, Buffalo, and WNY’s urban fabric and its future, especially with all of the waterfront development that extends down to the Union Ship Canal.” But with its future in doubt, support now is more vital than ever before.
See for yourself this Sunday, November 18, at 2 p.m., when Friends of the Administration Building present I’m Steel Standing, a celebration of the building, its architecture, and its history. The event will include:
Historic tours (exterior)
Interviews with former employees and relatives
Historic pictures and Re-use ideas
Draw, paint, or photograph an image of the building!
Petition drive to save the building
Food and drink
It all takes place at 1966 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Lackawanna. There is limited parking, so consider biking there, or parking in nearby lots across the canal, and walking over.