Thursday, September 20, 2007

A piece of the Ward Bakery yet escapes the wrecking ball

Any attending the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods press conference Monday could have noticed an odd thing: a piece of the Ward Bakery is not, in fact, shrouded for asbestos abatement and demolition but continues to operate as a moving and storage company.

How can part of the building be intact? Why isn't the company gone? A representative of Pack It Away Storage pointed me to attorney Michael Rikon, a well-known representative of condemnees, who answered my questions. (Here's an article co-authored by Rikon on the expansion of the doctrine of "public use.")

Ten-year operation

Pack It Away, Rikon said, has been at that location for more than ten years and the building--while connected to the rest of the bakery--is stable and structurally sound. "The demolition may not interfere with the continuing activities of the business in any way," he said.

(The last bakery operation at the building closed in 1995. The aromas, hardly unpleasant, wafted into Park Slope.)

Meanwhile, he explained, "We are awaiting an offer in writing pursuant to the Eminent Domain Procedure Law. I do not expect any offers to be made by the developer." Rather, the Empire State Development Corporation (aka New York State Urban Development Corporation, or UDC), via its outside counsel, Berger & Webb, will handle the case. "This firm is well respected and will carefully comply with all legal requirements to condemn the properties involved with the project."

Meanwhile, he said, "We await condemnation and will continue to do business even after the taking." Given that lawsuits likely will delay condemnation for months, that may make for an interesting time, since the bakery is scheduled for demolition in less than a month.


Blight Study

(Photo by Adrian Kinloch/Brit in Brooklyn. Look to the far left of the structure for the storage operation.)

The ESDC, in its Blight Study, declared:
Location, Use, Zoning, and Ownership
Lot 39 is located at 802 Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. The lot is occupied by a three story 15,372 gsf industrial building (see Photograph A). Lot 39 is located in an M1-1 zoning district with an FAR of 1.0. M1 districts allow high-performance light manufacturing uses and often serve as buffers to adjacent residential or commercial districts. According to the New York City Department
of Finance, lot 39 is currently owned by PJK Realty Corporation.
Unsanitary and Unsafe Conditions
As shown in Photographs A and B, there is graffiti on the façade of the building and on the building’s metal door. Apart from this graffiti, no unsanitary and unsafe conditions were identified as part of the visual assessment.
Indications of Structural Damage
A structural due diligence survey has not been conducted for this lot. The visual assessment did not indicate that the building structure is substantially compromised.
Building Code Violations
Lot 39 has 4 open building code violations on file with DOB (see Appendix B). The violations date from 1993 to 2002 and all are related to the building’s elevator system.
Vacancy Status
The building on lot 39 is currently occupied by a moving and storage company.


DDDB's response

Said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn in its response (p. 90) to the ESDC's Blight Study:
The eastern most end of the Ward Bakery is occupied by different owners and houses a moving and storage business. AKRF finds “there is graffiti on the façade of the building and the building’s metal door. Apart from this graffiti, no unsanitary and unsafe conditions were identified.” The neighborhood remains unaware of anyone suffering harm from this unsanitary and unsafe graffiti.

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