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 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.
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.