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 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.
* * * FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * * *
AREA CITIZENS ENGAGE TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS TO REHABILITATE BETHLEHEM STEEL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING AS THEY AWAIT RULING FROM LACKAWANNA
When: Wednesday February 13, 2012 – 12:30pm
Where: Lackawanna City Court – City Hall Steps
Contact Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group: Dana Saylor, (716) 218-8525
The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) has engaged the services of a team of well-respected preservation and planning professionals. The group, funded in part by a private donation, will assist in creating both feasibility and adaptive reuse studies for the 1901 Bethlehem Steel Administration Building. Declared structurally sound by an August engineering report, LIHG wants to show the public just what is possible at the site.
They will announce more details during a press conference at 12:30pm outside Lackawanna City Hall on Wednesday, February 13th. This will take place before the 1pm hearing where a City court judge will rule on the lawsuit brought by the group against Gateway Trade.
One of the team members is Barbara Campagna, formerly the Chief Architect at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a board member at the successful Richardson Olmsted Complex. She said, “We will create a plan for near and long-term development of this historic site by combining contemporary ideas and needs with a respect for our 20th century industrial story, providing cultural and economic benefits to the Lackawanna and Buffalo Niagara region residents and a destination for ever-increasing cultural heritage visitors. By preparing a comprehensive Feasibility & Adaptive Reuse Study, we will be using time tested planning tools to develop a responsible and sustainable approach towards the reinvention of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building.
The building has everything we need to tell the story of our industrial heritage, connect it to our expanding and dynamic waterfront and demonstrate how preservation is one of the building blocks of economic revitalization in America and in Western New York. The Richardson Olmsted Complex, the Martin House, Larkinville, the Central Terminal. These were all places that had languished and deteriorated for decades but are now key to the remaking of Buffalo. Having spent the past 30 years involved in saving and rethinking the Richardson Olmsted Complex, I’m thrilled to have been asked to assist in the visioning of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building.”
The LIHG will be pleased to share the group’s findings with the public, which will create jobs and facilitate economic development at this strategically important regional waterfront site.