Tagged: Buffalo Rising

Feb 21 “Bethlehem Steel Demolition Halted Due to Illegally Issued Demo Permit” Views of Buffalo

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).

As a result, the demolition permit issued was done so illegally and is therefore null and void. 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.
“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,” says Richard Berger, Esq., a local attorney representing The Campaign, “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 Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (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 judgment in the case but a verdict is expected soon.
LIHG has stated that they will cooperate with The Campaign for Greater Buffalo in any way needed.
For more information and to stay informed, check out the I’m Steel Standing website. Contact David Torke (fixBuffalo), founding LIHG Member: 716-602-5440 or davidtorke@gmail.com. For additional photos of the building check out David’s Flickr page by clicking here.

Feb 7: Uncovered Structural Engineering Report Declares Bethlehem Steel Administration Building Structurally Sound; Buffalo Rising

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.

While there were two other engineering reports completed that claim the building is not structurally sound, this report is the only one where the consultants were allowed inside the building for their review, giving them the most comprehensive look at the structure that anyone has had thus far.

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.

Jan 24 – Bethlehem Steel Demolition Begun: Citizens Gather at “Cathedral of Industry”, Protest Failure of Leadership, Lost Opportunity

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.


Jan 10: “Bethlehem Steel, Going Going Gone?” Buffalo Rising

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.

The mayor of the City of Lackawanna, Geoffrey Szymanski, has been quoted by the Buffalo News saying that demolition is progress.  Perhaps he gets this belief from the “progress” exhibited along the city’s main thoroughfare, Ridge Road.  That once bustling street of shops and institutions is now a bland, gap-toothed poster child for the mayor’s form of progress. The Lackawanna progress that the mayor promotes leads to basically nothing of any worth from what I can see.  The recently cleared St. Barbara’s Church site is now an extravaganza of progress in the form of an empty grassy lot.  The corner across the street from the magnificent Our Lady of Victory Basilica once held a busy commercial building that was removed for the progressive use of surface parking. What is a great landmark building without surrounding it with asphalt, right? Progress Lackawanna style will now add more nothingness to this once mighty industrial city.  In the warped logic of today’s throw-away America nothing = progress.
Get down there to the building while you can so you can see what Lackawanna had before progress came along. Document it for future generations as thoroughly as you can.
Want to help save what is left of Buffalo and Western New York?  You can start by letting Mayor Szymanski know what you think of his form of progress. You can also connect with like minded people on the Preservation Ready Sites FaceBook and join Preservation Buffalo Niagara or The Campaign for Greater Buffalo http://greaterbuffalo.blogs.com  There is no gain to WNY in allowing delinquent owners and shortsighted small minded municipalities to continue stealing our unique and irreplaceable heritage. Tear down for real progress and I am with you but let’s not pretend that anything of substance is coming to the glorious Lackawanna waterfront once the Bethlehem Steel office building is taken to the garbage dump.

I’m Steel Standing on Buffalo Rising

Originally published on Buffalo Rising, “I’m Steel Standing: A Celebration of Beth Steel’s Administration,” 2012 11 14.

“We’re not giving up on this one…”

That’s the overall message that preservationists are sending along these days, despite the colder temperatures setting in. In a surprise turn of events, supporters of the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building are doing anything but sitting by resting idle.
This Sunday, November 18 at 2pm, friends of the administration building will be gathering at the site in order to pay homage to the structure, while raising awareness as to the importance of the building both in a historical sense and as a reuse opportunity.
It’s not hard to take a look at this beauty and imagine major events taking place along the shores of Lake Erie. As positive developments extend from downtown Buffalo to the footstep of the site in question (see Union Ship Canal Commons), there has never been a better time to think about the importance of this landmark. The Bethlehem Steel Administration Building should be considered a significant ‘bookend’ to a number of waterfront projects, with an anchor role to play in authentic waterfront development. There are no other buildings (such as this) along this stretch of waterfront that could serve to host a community that is anxious to visit significant landmarks as they are reconditioned for modern day, year ’round uses.