Thursday, March 06, 2008

DDDB to get preservation award from HDC, but Ward Bakery demolition continues

From the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn newsletter:
The Historic Districts Council (HDC) will be awarding Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn their Grassroots Preservation Award for our "ongoing efforts to stop the Atlantic Yards project." There will be a ceremony in May. We thank the HDC for acknowledging and honoring our ongoing work.

HDC gives several Grassroots Preservation Awards, often to groups that, unlike DDDB, have succeeded in their preservation mission. Last year's winners included the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, the Crown Heights North Association, the East Village Community Coalition, and the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance, all of which had achieved preservation progress.

DDDB and allies have succeeded in raising consciousness about valuable buildings within the Atlantic Yards footprint and the general importance of responsible development, but it has not succeeded in blocking the ongoing demolition of the Ward Bakery, though Forest City Ratner and parent Forest City Enterprises have certainly practiced historic preservation elsewhere. Tracy Collins's photo shows the smokestack coming down. (More here.)

"Absurd" but sustainable demolition

FCR's 3/22/07 announcement regarding the Ward Bakery demolition noted, "As part of its sustainability efforts and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process, at least 75% of the demolition debris is expected to be recycled."

However, recycling debris from a building that could've been renovated does not represent the path to sustainability, given "embodied energy," as sustainability consultant Donovan Rypkema explained last year.

Indeed, the issue came up last Thursday, at an HDC panel on “Preservation, Planning and Aesthetic Regulation in New York City." Eric Allison, coordinator of the Historic Preservation Graduate Program at Pratt Institute, called it "an absurdity" that "they're getting LEED credit for the reuse of the historic building they're destroying."

Why not Spalding?

If Forest City Ratner is in such a hurry to build the Atlantic Yards Arena, why hasn't the developer started to demolish the Spalding Building, which, unlike the Ward Bakery, actually would be within the arena footprint?

Maybe because it was already renovated into condos, and should the project be scotched, the apartments could easily be marketed.

1 comment:

  1. The reasons why Bruce Ratner is demolishing the Ward Bakery (not within the arena footprint) while not starting to demolish the Spalding Building, (within the arena footprint) is that he knows that: 1.) he has no legitimate reason to use eminent domain for the Ward Bakery block, 2.) he has the least legitimate reason to demolish anything on that block, and 3.) the public is most likely to rally to prevent destruction of the buildings on that block including the Ward Bakery.

    And yes, Ratner is contemplating that his success is far from guaranteed (the project is fragile) so he has importantly factored in his ability to resell the Spalding Co-ops after such a failure.

    Either the city or state could have prevented Ratner from starting to demolish the Ward Bakery: there is this question of $2 billion or so of public subsidy Ratner wants from them so it would have been easy for either the city or the state to do what they should have done to postpone premature demolition of the Bakery.

    It is too bad that the city and state could not see and protect the interest of the public as easily as Ratner could see and act upon his own interests. It is too bad our public officials allow the interests of Ratner to come first.

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