Tagged: WGRZ

Feb 13: “Judge Reserves Decision On Bethlehem Demo” WGRZ

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.


Jan 17: Lonely Vigil at Beth Steel Building Facing Demolition, WGRZ

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.

Dec 29 “Preservationists Protest Bethlehem Steel Demolition” WGRZ [Link]

Nov 28 “Judge Upholds Demo Order for Bethlehem Bldg” WGRZ

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.

Sept 1 “Preservation Push on Bethlehem Steel Building” WGRZ

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

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

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

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

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

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