Another Push Being Made to Save Bethlehem Steel Administration Building

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 info@oldtimeroots.com

About the author  ⁄ david steele

47 comments
whatever
whatever

True, the thread wandered at some point.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/wKq3TRIiqPho8_rBoVojsvIp528
https://me.yahoo.com/a/wKq3TRIiqPho8_rBoVojsvIp528

its odd how these things work. Money showed up to Lackawanna but is it more than just money? Some hidden force behind the scenes is saying "tear this building down." Money showed up to Lackawanna, I guess this is how it makes itself look pretty. I predict in ten years you'll only see nothing by rubble at the site. Nothing but rubble.

whatever
whatever

BRL>"link a few Democrats to the problem"

Way more than a few (see LaFalce below, btw). It's as many as anyone wants to see in evidence like votes in Congress, actions by Clinton, recorded statements in hearings, etc.

BRL>"it is conservative/republican ideology that drove us to ruin"

That's projecting c/r labels onto many things done by a wide range of govt officials who were/are mostly centrist moderates along with some on left and some on right.

As an aside - Republican and conservative are often very different.

For example, Jim Leach, moderate-centrist Republican from Iowa who endorsed Obama and was embraced by him, was a lead sponsor of repealing Glass-Steagall regulations. That repeal made it much easier for banks to take greater risks with wild investments.

It's ridiculous to say Leach is conservative or far right just because he's R.

Here's a photo of Clinton proudly signing that massive deregulation in 1999

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/files/clintonbubble-feature.jpg

Notice liberal Democrat John LaFalce next to Clinton - smiling, clapping.

Chris Dodd, D, is over Clinton's other shoulder. Next to LaFalce is Sarbanes, also a D leader in the Senate.

Surprising that Chuck Schumer didn't elbow his way into the pic, but he voted for it, as did Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, on and on....

Schumer is a long time advocate of Wall St and the financial industry.

Do LaFalce, Clinton, Schumer, Dodd, Sarbanes, etc count as conservatives or far right?

BRL>"The crux of the commission's report was just as clear, lack of or weak regulation and poor oversight were the main drivers of the crisis."

Yes, and it wasn't the "far right" or conservatives who mainly caused all that, which is what your comments have been claiming.

That 1999 bill was one example of many… another is the Fanny-Freddy mess and liberal Democrat Barney Frank's involvement. Here's the Boston Globe, hardly a right wing rag, about that...

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2010/10/14/frank_haunted_by_stance_on_fannie_freddie/

"… The issue that day in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong. Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial integrity.

And, the Massachusetts Democrat maintained, “even if there were problems, the federal government doesn’t bail them out.’’

Now, it’s clear he was wrong on both points - ... Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008, forcing the federal government to buy $150 billion worth of stock in the enterprises and $1.36 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities. …."

Another fun fact is some of those critics/regulators in '03 who liberal Democrat Frank was arguing against - very wrongly as it turns out - were appointees of GW Bush.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I realize you can link a few Democrats to the problem but it is conservative/republican ideology that drove us to ruin. The constant mantra of less government, less regulation, and less oversight are all clearly the message and policies of the right.

The crux of the commission's report was just as clear, lack of or weak regulation and poor oversight were the main drivers of the crisis.

ccbuffalo
ccbuffalo

you had 30 years to deal with this, and now that its time to come down, the preservationist are crying. use your own money to fix it up if you love it sooo much.

whatever
whatever

BRL - the things involved were (and are, they're continuing) bipartisan moderate consensus failures. Not anything the "far right" forced to happen.

This is true in general about the major factors I'd listed that the commission pointed to and the other things you listed.

None of the following, for just a few examples, were or are "far right" -

Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Tom Daschle, Joe Corzine, Barney Frank, Jim Leach, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Chris Dodd, …. on and on.

I'll leave out Obama only because he wasn't yet in the US Senate when a lot of all those decisions were made….but since becoming senator and president his hands aren't clean either.

whatever
whatever

Grovey - don't know if you intended that to be a reply to me, but anyhow I agree with your comment.

It would be dopey hyper partisan in many ways if anyone would really try to single out Republicans for Bethlehem's Lackawanna plant closing in the early '80s - especially considering that was just after over two decades of '60s and '70s with Democrats controlling both houses of Congress.

MEG
MEG

We're still working hard to preserve Beth Steel, we have 10 days! Email the Mayor right now about it: mayor@LACKny.com.

benfranklin
benfranklin

In seems incongruous to be wishing to see this building saved, and then on the other hand saying that the economy is fueled from the 'bottom-up'. Who exactly on the bottom is going to step forward and save this building?

Whenever I see you type the word 'greed', I substitute 'competitive'. You may not like greed, and may think it somehow injurious to society. But to me, the bigger issue was upper management getting soft, and in a way, not being 'greedy' enough. When we get soft, countries that are hungrier take our jobs.

You may not like those personality traits. But right now, that's what we need more of. People making a commitment of their dollars, sticking their neck out, and creating jobs. When the left substitutes greed for effort, and demonizes those that succeed, it makes all of us worse off.

GroveyClevesYall
GroveyClevesYall

SO. The republican party is responsible for Beth Steel coming down or not? This is why this site is embarrassing. A bunch of people arguing about things to stroke their own egos without any relevance to the original post.

Love yallways,

Grovey

benfranklin
benfranklin

Normally I'd side with your private property rights argument, but the city is the one telling the private property owner they must take the building down. The private owner was happy to take it down when they thought it would be subsidized, without the subsidy, the building is likely to come down one brick at a time. Enough to show it's being removed, but in an affordable way for the owner.

Buffalo: Then & Now
Buffalo: Then & Now

It looks as if the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building has found its end... the judge has ordered demolition to begin within 10 days, otherwise contempt of court charges will be issued. Article here.

Buffalo: Then & Now
Buffalo: Then & Now

It looks as if the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building has found its end... the judge has ordered demolition to begin within 10 days, otherwise contempt of court charges will be issued. Article here.

buffalofalling
buffalofalling

Thankfully economic reality and private property rights win out! The argument that these buildings have value that cant be measured or is underlined is the flimsiest, most desparate, sad argument I've heard. I you can't better explain this so called value, you've lost. Beauty and value as you suggest are social construction, in his case by urban, white, and likely reasonably well off EV types who have self-anointed themselves as the ones to tell the test of us what as this undefined value and why it should be saved. Anyone then with a counter argument is minimized because we refuse to accept your value, mainly becuse we better understand economics and reality.

No back to your regularly scheduled discussion of how you think you should have a say in private property rights without ownership or capital.

irishmedic716
irishmedic716

As a product of South Buffalo, and travelling the waterfront as well as the Route 5 complex for years, I have always been a fan of this building. That said, I have seen NO creative or level headed idea for adaptive reuse. A supermarket?

Seriously? Where do you people come up with this nonsense. This building was built for and still sits in an INDUSTRIAL area. Such as the case with the Cargills Mill on the waterfront or Cargills or Concrete Central along the Buffalo River. Love these structures, but what true adapative reuse is there other than what some hipster sipping his/her PBR typing away with no sense of reality.

The cries of people stating Lackawanna should move it's City Hall there are also laughable. This is the same city mind you that almost took 4 years, 4 YEARS to complete the new bridge on Ridge Road. It's a city in all truth that has outlived it's usefulness (it was formed for the Lackwanna Steel Company) and should be dismantled.

I believe, and it's one of the most simple industries to look into for this entire plot of land(ie: former Steel complex)and going back to our roots...ship building, maintenance and intermodal rail operations. Why? If no one knows by now, we are in the shadow of one of the world's busiest canal corridors as well as shipping routes. We have headquartered in Buffalo (albeit on Essjay in Williamsville), the American Steamship Company that operates a fleet of over 10 large lake freighters.

Many times, large lake freighters as well as Salties (ocean going cargo ships), are within 15-30 miles of our shores...anchored awaiting the transit through the Welland Canal. Buffalo was once a hub of shipbuilding and ship maintenance operations,as well as varying port operations and we still have vessels coming into our overall port. To faciliate transfer of cargo from points North in Buffalo, thereby transfering to rail for transit to NYC ports is cost effective. The transit of a vessel in the Welland Canal takes 7-9 hours. That's real money to these shipping companies.

The problem vessels face utilizing our Port is it's shallow. The Gateway Metroport can only handle the larger vessels (such as the Salties), due to there draft. This was the case during Navy Week when the USS DeWert and HMCS Ville De Quebec had to dock here rather than downtown. This is where this idea hit me as I was looking out at the former coke ovens of the steel plant rotting away. The slip infrastructure would need simple upkeep, new rail lines installed, overhead crane gantries, etc;

This is an industry that still is a major player along the waterfront. There is still an office in Lackawanna on Ridge Road where you can obtain your documentation to be a Merchant Marine (able seaman). People have placed too much focus on the St.Lawrence Seaway downgrading our importance. Yes it killed our grain industry and steel industry, but our politicans and unions were as equal to blame for not being proactive with changing times.We have a great potential, if we can find the right investment and political will to support this.

Our benefits? We have a huge Intermodal rail industry here, as well as a significant rail infrastructure still. Canadian National's yard at the old steel complex, Norfolk Southern's in Sloan and CSX operations in the area. We have many intermodal trains going through our area daily onward to the Port of Newark/New York.

It's a realistic idea, not just one building but the entire complex surrounding it. Only then, may you find parties willing to invest.

Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

Actually, if you need to place blame, the economic meltdown was a direct result of Bill Clinton removing safe guards that FDR had put in place 60-years earlier to help avoid the situation that, eventually, happened.

Not pinning any roses on Bush as he is directly responsible for the death and maiming of young men and women fighting a war over oil and mineral rights and lining the pockets of Dick Cheney and other parasites running this country behind closed doors.

You can begin clicking the thumbs down now....

whatever
whatever

BRL>"most agree it was far right ideology run amuck that caused the economic collapse and debt

Most agree that was the cause of the collapse?

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (appointed in 2009 by Dem-controlled both houses of Congress) said in their final report in 2011:

"While the vulnerabilities that created the potential for crisis were years in the making, it was the collapse of the housing bubble—fueled by low interest rates, easy and available credit, scant regulation, and toxic mortgages — that was the spark that ignited a string of events, which led to a full-blown crisis in the fall of 2008. …"

Okay, lets look at those four major factors they identified:

low interest rates [not far right ideology]

easy and available credit [not far right ideology]

scant regulation [perhaps, if "far right" also includes Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, etc.]

toxic mortgages [not far right ideology]

whatever
whatever

"You are not sure why the owner of a building is on the hook to fix the building? Seriously?"

The owner had/has a choice between either fixing it or demolishing. Between those options, Gateway prefers the latter. There's no reason they couldn't still fix and save some of it even now if they want to spend the money and effort, but it seems they don't want to. It's their choice as it should be. What the City and NYS court won't let them do is delay the demo any more than has been done already for so long.

Potentially that choice between fixing vs demo could've been someone else's decision to make if anybody else (person, business, or nonprofit group like for Central Terminal) had wanted to publicly offer to buy and take over ownership at any point during all the many years since Gateway bought the huge Bethlehem complex in 1983.

But evidently in almost 30 years now, nobody else has wanted to seriously offer going beyond protesting blogging, etc. - maybe paining pictures, complaining to politicians, trying to sue the govt, etc.

People have a right to do all that stuff, although none of that awareness raising might be sufficient to change the result if there's still no serious offers to try taking over ownership. We'll see.

davvid
davvid

Well said. Moving the Lackawanna City Hall to a middle-of-nowhere site would make absolutely no sense.

whatever
whatever

fly>"it seems this building would be a good fit for Lackawanna City Hall!"

No it doesn't.

People are free to keep exclaiming that belief from far away, but aren't the following both true?

1) There's isn't any big desire among Lackawanna residents for any new more fancy city hall building.

2) For Lackawanna residents, the Bethlehem Admin site would be a much worse location than their current City Hall at Ridge & South Park.

Why should people who have to visit City Hall to pay a bill (or attend public hearings, get permits, etc.) have to go to/from a much worse location - not to mention also having to fund much of what a new city hall would cost - just so other people who don't live in Lackawanna are happy to read that an old building they like was saved?

Especially for residents without cars, the location would be a big worsening.

Here's a map showing the difference

http://goo.gl/maps/2UuYN

Marker 'A' on map is current City Hall, 'B' is Bethlehem Admin site.

Postermaster
Postermaster

If true, this is terrible news.

I truly adore this building, but hopefully this painful (not yet done) action will force the preservation community to galvanize itself around a viable strategy for saving landmark buildings. Their current approach is a debacle. Leadership in these organizations have let the people down. Although I realize they are trying their hardest, they need think harder about their overall strategy

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I was just poking fun but most agree it was far right ideology run amuck that caused the economic collapse and debt. Generous tax breaks for the wealthy, low capital gains rates, and two unfunded wars all took a toll. Deregulation, trickle down, union bashing, etc also contributed greatly to the disparity of wealth and entrenched poverty that now defines America.

Almost all great wealth is derived from natural resources or human resources. Those natural resources belong to all Americans while workers of course make up human resources. Wealth has indeed been redistributed, from those that produce to those unproductive members of the elite investor class. Government has always enabled business from the earliest days, we built canals, harbors, roads, railroads, airports, etc to allow business to operate and profit. We provide police, fire, communications, and legal protection to give business stability and safety. The wealthy could not amass or protect their fortunes without the foundation provided by government and taxpayers dollars. They should pay more for that privilege as they benefit more from government than the average person.

Finally, wages have been driven down to a point where government must fill the void. We subsidize their workers with health care, food stamps, housing vouchers, and a slew of other programs designed to keep the majority of low wage workers out of extreme poverty and the social unrest that would likely otherwise result. We need to value work and pay a fair and decent wage, capitalism only works when fed from the bottom up, top down has proved to be a failure for the vast majority of citizens.

benfranklin
benfranklin

When you say coddling the rich, are you talking about tax rates?

If that's the case, it would seem you think some of that wealth should have been redistributed. Which is a reasonable argument to make.

It would seem to follow then that you are saying the less well off have a reasonable expectation that they will receive something, from the rich, to help them.

This money, to those in need, comes in the form of payments from the government, having been taken from the wealthy.

So, why is it not racist for you to say a percentage of the population is depending on this handout, but if a republican says it, it's unspeakable/harsh/racist?

grad94
grad94

just heard on the radio that the demolition will be allowed to proceed.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I heard preservationists add more to the economy and the city than do silly trolls.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

It is so unfair to keep blaming the economic meltdown on Bush, one man could not possibly do so much damage. It took the entire Republican party with their policies of coddling the rich and big business while ignoring their obligation to the rest of us.

LouisTully
LouisTully

I love how people create accounts just to come on here and be ass-clowns.

Postermaster
Postermaster

It's like saying Obama is responsible for the economy. We all know it's Bush's fault.

jim1234664
jim1234664

Might want to get a firmer grip on the english language before attempting to be snarky

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

'Places such as this become part of the community and culture, deeper than just things people own.'

well said, it's intangibles like this that a dollar value really can't be placed on but are valuable in so many other non dollar based ways.

STEEL
STEEL

Let me get this straight - You are not sure why the owner of a building is on the hook to fix the building? Seriously?

flyguy
flyguy

I totally hear what you are saying and agree to an extent. However, sometimes there are instances where the value of some of these resources really needs to be considered. On the surface it appears there may be little value because im sure an argument can be made that the place is a wreck.

This is a truly unique historic location with high visibility, along a major travel route so in theory its decently sited. Many times its true that we truly dont know what we've got til its gone. I agree that not everything historic needs to be saved and that cities evolve over time and should represent both the old and new, however, in my own personal opinion this building does have value. Yes its been let go far too long and I wonder where everyone was many years ago BUT I think with a new focus the region has started to recognize its resources it should be improving and showing off. First it takes recognizing the value and saving the resource (especially when demolition is near imminent) and then it takes planning to ensure something viable. Where theres a will theres a way. Preservationists should not just be in it to save it but to constructively offer creative ideas about how something like this could fit into future area plans and also support itself. In situations like this, the community needs some preservationists with a good business sense that make preservation a part of their business model and cost of doing business. The us versus them mentality should stop on both sides and only then I think some sort of positive dialogue opens up and a vision can be created. Bullying to get ones way doesnt lead to good feelings in the end except on the one side of an argument who feel they've won or proved something.

The Bethlehem building may not be truly owned by the community or posters on here but its a part of the community and a part of people's history around here. Some even helped support that building while working at Bethlehem Steel and put sweat equity into it. Places such as this become part of the community and culture, deeper than just things people own. If a building such as this had no value other than just being a thing then why do so many people get emotional about it?

Jaxson
Jaxson

Didn't someone say it would be a good sight for a Trader Joes ?

MEG
MEG

What a boring argument, if that's all you have, skip it next time.

MEG
MEG

The owners are considering demolition for space for a warehouse. There is no need for this building to be demolished, in fact, the back portion of the building could be that warehouse.

AppleJacks
AppleJacks

Guess what the building is going to be knocked down. I love how everyone has ideas but no one can come up with where the money is coming from to keep it. So stupid

Postermaster
Postermaster

Better yet, the CE should pass an executive order mandating they move here and redistribute all their dirty profits to those less fortunate than us. This would be the right thing to do and would send the right message the community. Anything less is unacceptable

Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

The VP of Facility Planning for the Catholic Health System should instruct the CEO’s to direct Uniland Development to adaptively reuse this building as their “new” administration building instead of the proposed “suburbia” design being considered for the Oak Street location.

paulsobo
paulsobo

This is wonderful news and I applaud those that care about this building and its historical significance.

The future citizens will look at this building and be thankful they have it...just as we today look at buildings we have today with gratitude that others in the past saw as worthy of demolition.

Dont pay attention to the naysayers...they dont contribute anything except well worn indentations to their sofa.

BufHky
BufHky

If the City of Lackawanna revokes the court order to demolish the building than maybe that's a possibility.

AppleJacks
AppleJacks

Not sure why they would be on the hook to spend over a million dollars to fix the building. The group who wants to save the building should run fundraisers to try and get donations to save the building. They are the ones who want the building saved.

ccbuffalo
ccbuffalo

i herd there was an old out house near by, get on it preservation people.

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

they should have at least made a counter offer of 50 cents. if the offer was accepted and they had good credit there should be no problem getting financing...

AppleJacks
AppleJacks

Rumor has it they were offered the building for 1.00 and declined.

flyguy
flyguy

Considering the size of the Bethlehem property is this structure really "in the way" of something? Is there development lined up? Who and/ or what is it? This really could be a gateway and/ or signature structure to a redeveloped Bethlehem Steel site, hopefully sooner than later. A highly visible site at the edge of a potentially monster size economic development engine considering the location and size of land out there sitting idle for development, it seems this building would be a good fit for Lackawanna City Hall!

benfranklin
benfranklin

Preservationists would do themselves a favor in moving the discussion forward, towards a deal getting done that transfers ownership.

Specifically, show the history of the sale of the building, this is how much it was most recently acquired for, will the current owner give it up for 'x', 'x' being a fair amount on their investment.

Next, what do the first few floors look like, inside. Will the city pay to demo that 'back' portion, which isn't historical in nature (there was some money available for asbestos abatement, right?).

Appealing to emotion get's a building saved in the short run, it's long term viability is linked to it creating a revenue stream for someone, or some business. Begin to connect the dots that show a new owner this is what you'll get, this is what the city is willing to do, and this is what it will cost. Obviously an investor will have to pick up the ball at some point, but move it as far down the field as you can. It's easier to score from the other teams 20, than from your own five.

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