Marty and Mayor Deal Death Blow to B’kln History

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Selling the public a giant shovel-ful of b.s., Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. President and CEO Andrew Kimball yesterday claimed that he has”no option” but to tear down the ten historic residences for naval officers that line Flushing Avenue at the Southwest corner of the yard. The buildings, which were built between 1858 and 1901, will be replaced by a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and a 300-car parking garage. Not everyone agrees with Kimball’s analysis. “[Preserving Admirals Row] is definitely doable and worth doing,” said New York Landmarks Conservancy official Alex Herrera. “They’re really a part of Brooklyn and Brooklyn’s history.” In another betrayal of Brooklyn’s heritage, Marty Markowitz joined Mayor Bloomberg in hailing the forces of progress: “A crucial community resource must take priority over preservation at Admirals Row.” Marty better hope he just won a lot of new votes from residents of the Farragut Houses (the most likely patrons of the supermarket) because he sure as hell just lost a lot of support among Brooklynites who care about preserving the borough’s history.

Addendum: Marty’s office contacted us to clarify that Navy Yard officials make all decisions regarding Admirals Row, and that he was simply stating his priorities in the Daily News article. He also pointed out his efforts to restore the historic Loew’s Kings theater in Flatbush and to preserve the character of Coney Island, including the Parachute Jump, as it is revitalized.
Admirals Row Sunk [NY Daily News]
Brooklyn Navy Yard Expansion Begins [NY Times]
Admirals Row [Historic Fort Greene]
Photo by D.K. Holland

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  • Not all brooklynites share your thoughts brownstoner. Not all care to save historical relics that take up valuable space for the community

  • No kidding. That’s why we said “Brooklynites who care about preserving the borough’s history.”

  • Anonymoous at 9:45 AM, you are either not a careful reader or simply determined to make a crabby naysayer comment. The post distinctly states “among Brooklynites who care….” Obviously, you don’t. Thank you for letting us now.

  • These buildings have been decrepit for decades and serve no useful purpose. Giving an underserved community a grocery store is a far better use of this space. I’m sure most area residents would agree.

  • this is sad. i’m sure there are other locations for a new supermarket. (btw, does anyone know what is happening with the property on myrtle, just east of flatbush? i think it was mainly a huge Laundromat on that block, now it’s all been torn down).

    i’ve always wanted to get in there and walk around the beautiful old (& scary!) houses. i wish we could poke around before they’re all gone : (

  • Hmmm…. 60,000 sq ft… parking garage… Whole Foods, anyone?

  • Id love a whole foods as a fort greene resident. Just doubt theyd set up shop across from the projects. Just being real….

  • The Red Hook Fairway is huge at 52,000 sq.ft. This planned supermarket will be 60,000?! Plus a 300-car garage? This is where I think the argument that it’s for the neighborhood residents is a bit facetious. Do the residents of the Farragut Houses need a new (since there’s already one on York, though I understand it ain’t so great) supermarket? I’m sure they do. Do they need one this large? Doubtful. And do they, a scant couple of blocks from the site, need a 300-car parking garage? It would make no sense for people to drive that distance unless they are elderly or disabled but car services or delivery services can fill that need too. Why not make a smaller store with a smaller parking lot and figure out a way to preserve at least some of these buildings?

  • It is possible to care deeply about preserving Brooklyn’s rich history and look toward future use of land that could benefit the community in other ways.

    Have you spoken to both sides regarding this issue? Have you toured the site? Have you asked about the variety of ideas that have been considered? Maybe you have but it certainly does not surface in this post. The issue is far from black and white and certainly deserves more exploration than this knee-jerk, reactionary blurb.

  • this is one of the most destructive administrations in history he’s not improving NYC or brooklyn one iota, he’s only thinking about a quick buck.
    60Kft supermarket – - again he’s favoring big businesses at the expense of small…this is subsidized corporate welfare, and as always the poor are paraded out as an excuse.
    Every time this happens the city loses some of its aesthetic value (and we all know that these buildings will be replaced by ugly, faceless buildings.
    long term that’s bad for the city and its #1 industry tourism, not to mention quality of life.
    What is the motivation behind Bloomberg’s relentless careless robert moses style development?

  • The “underserved” community is right next to Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. There are a multitude of services in this area. Probably more than any other public housing faciltiy.
    Those houses would be beautiful restored along that street. And I am sure they would recieve top dollar. But whatever, pave it over. More concrete structures and bland architecture. Soon we will look like Belgrade.

  • a 300-car parking garage?

    Just goes to show you how backward most of these corrupt land-grab/sweetheart deals are – they are designing for the car – robert moses style – no long term thought about how to better manage traffic, just build build build build build and pass off the expense and problems to the next generation. These developers are careless, thoughtless and greedy. if they were at least competent I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with them. Ever meet any? Most of them just exude scum, worse than personal injury lawyers.

  • They’ve been neglected for years and it’s interesting to me that no one really gave a crap until they issue came up. Honestly, how many people knew or cared about these houses until recently? Did anyone stop to think this may be a hughe benefit to the hood serving both the Farragut houses and shiny new inhabitants moving across the river?

  • I’m as incensed about this as anyone; indeed, I wrote letters about it last year to numerous city offices and newspapers. After apending some time with the Navy Yard archivist, I have come to understand two unfortunate and related facts: First, while theoretically salvagable (really, anything is theoretically salvagable), the houses have been so compromised by the elements (literally trees growing into structural walls and foundations), that “saving” them would amount to reconstructing them almost entirely. The ROI analyses of this scenario are, as one might imagine, thoroughly unimpressive. Second, the real culprit in all of this is neither the Yard nor the city but–wait for it–the Army Corps of Engineers. Yes folks, the same people who brought you the levees in New Orleans were designated as the stewards of Admiral’s Row, and for nearly 30 years did absolutely nothing to stave off decay and destruction.

  • Anon 10:39,

    DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights may be geographically close to this site, but in reality they may as well be in California. Given the barrier created by the subway line over the bridge, these buildings are located (literally and figuratively) closer to the Farragut Houses – that is an underserved community and it deserves this grocery store. And I don’t see why the size of the store should be reduced. People love Fairway, but when residents of public housing stand to gain a place to shop, suddenly everyone cares more about rotting buildings. There are thousands of residents in the Farragut Houses, so the proposed size seems justified to me.

  • I’d be a million bucks that anon 10:41 owns a car.

  • Rascal is right. I would call myself an ardent preservationist, but restoring (more like rebuilding) these totally decrepit buildings is, conservatively, $40-60 million prospect.

    If someone wanted to buy the properties and raise money for full restoration, that would be great. But at this high a cost I’m not sure it’s a very good use of government money, nor would it necessarily provide enough benefit to the community. Sometimes practicality trumps history.

  • The ROI analyses of this scenario are, for nearly 30 years did absolutely nothing to stave off decay and destruction.

    not to bring atlantic yards into this but it seems to be the MO for corrupt deals these days – let the area become blighted by intentionally neglecting it and use that as the justification for destructive development. That is EXACTLY how Robert Moses operated, except he did it with infrastructure- let the MTA get run down and then said ‘see we need parkways’

  • The residents of Farragut, Ingersoll, and Walt Whitman (those are NYC Housing developments, for those of you who don’t know there are poor people in New York) know that this new development is just another nail in the coffin of public housing in New York. If Marty Markowitz cared anything about the providing services to the NYCHA tenants, he would have protested the destruction of the supermarket and other shops on Myrtle.

    Marty does not care about the votes from these NYCHA developments, because the city is busy emptying them out.

    The destruction of Admiral’s Row does not help Brooklynits, and this is something that preservationists and NYCHA residents can fully agree on.

  • You guys are crazy! If you like the site, and want to restore it, put your money where your mouth is. Otherwise chill. Those buildings have been there for years decaying and you did nothing!!

  • 11:45 am:

    I would be glad to put my money where my mouth is, but unfortunately I have no control over my money. Unelected unaccountable untransparent crony state authorities are making decisions about where to spend public moneys. If they were making wise decisions, I could tolerate it, but there is no plan for Brooklyn.

    And don’t tell me I’m not doin’ nothin’. You don’t know what I’m up to.

  • why can’t there be a compromise where they figure out how to incorporate the existing structures into the new one?

    i dont think they should be allowed to simply destroy a part of brooklyn’s history.

  • Our history is important. How nice it would be to have an administration that cared about investing in saving our architectural heritage and using it for community purposes. It’s not like preserving the livable scale of a neighborhood and its unique qualities precludes developing amenities like supermarkets. For instance, instead of letting every shady developer build every piece of cheap crap on every square inch of available land, how about insisting that, if you’re going to add 30 families or whatever to an area you also develop a building to lease to a supermarket? Those navy yard buildings are in horrific disrepair–because they’ve been deliberately neglected. Nobody is putting up a garage or a whole foods to benefit the economically disadvantaged residents of the profits. It’s to make an ungodly amount of money. How about developing a usefule educational or recreational resource incorporating the buildings or even the shells? No imagination and NO CONCERN for poorer residents anywhere in this borough. Just unbelievably slimy doubletalk. Ugh.

  • For at the 20 years that I have been practicing architecture in Brooklyn, I have heard other architects and other lovers of historic buildings to say things like “My dream is to get one of those buildings on Admirals Row and live there. Can you imagine how cool that would be.” Clearly it is too late for something like this now. The cost of the restoration is beyond the modest-but-stable means of most of us.
    But the mind wanders to what it would have been like had these houses somehow been sold 20 years ago, when there was still the possibility of restoration. Could have been good for the neighborhood, the Navy Yard, and the new owners.

  • Here is my suggestion:
    Look around your neighborhood/city and see what historical structures are still there and start the process to save/adapt them now. Develop a plan, make allies and work it.

    If you don’t know who owns the structure/land, find out. The developers do.

    Don’t wait and react. Take the initiative.

  • ameraleed, you’re an architect. Can you or your colleagues help those folks over at Broken Angel?

  • is there anyway to incorporate the buildings into the new plan? even if one is saved as an office for the new supermarket or something. . .just as a reminder of the character of the area. . .I am no city planner but it seems like it should be possible. like the building on 3rd and 3rd where the park slope whole foods will go. . .

  • dittoburg

    all you know-nothings claiming that people are only interested in saving these buildings now need to get your head out of your a$%#es. Various groups have been trying to get these places taken care of for years, what do you think that half-mile long white paint message on the boundary wall about presevring the admiral’s row came from? Whatsmore – there i splenty of room inside the navy yard for a supermarket without knocking those places down.

    Short-sightedness has ruined many areas of new york, and if you are so clueless to think that architecture does not affect people’s behavior and attachment to a place then you are wasting your time reading this board.

    Why not knock down the whole place and turn it into a strip mall. Why not go and live in New jersey or anywheresville.

  • 300 Car Parking Garage!?! Why not locate the store near a bus stop or divert a bus route so it passes right in front of it. And put a big sidewalk and bike path from the store to the housing, so people can push “granny” carts or ride bike to from the store.

    We don’t need huge amounts of parking, it just encourages people to be wasteful and drive their car a few blocks, when they could have walked or used public transportation.

  • I had thought those buildings were landmarked. what a devastating loss for Brooklyn history. I had heard Marty has aspirations to Mayor- he’s sure not getting my vote. Bloomberg is ruthless and insensitive. We have money to burn for Nets arenas, giveaways to developers of luxury housing, and yet nothing to preserve these historic buildings. Loser is right- there’s plenty of room without tearing down the houses. Anon 12:15 has the right of it too. If the City really cared about the tenants of the Farragut Houses they’d spend money making them liveable.

  • i thought they already had plans for a giant supermarket at the site of the old brig that was demolished recently. are they going to put in 2 supermarkets within a 4 block radius? what kind of sham is bloomberg pulling now?

  • “Short-sightedness has ruined many areas of new york, and if you are so clueless to think that architecture does not affect people’s behavior and attachment to a place then you are wasting your time reading this board.”

    Amen, this is the same thoughtless, arrogant robert moses style development that New Yorkers fought for so many years to stop. Just imagine if he had been allowed to have his way – no Greenwich Village, no Brooklyn Heights….now it seems the ‘three men in a room’ and Bloomberg are trying to finish what Moses started – the complete erasing of the past, Stalin style.

  • First, I would like to compliment the level of discourse here. Curbed had a similar thread a few days ago and the racism and classism was pretty disgusting.

    I am very glad to read so many comments suggesting that this is not the project to get incensed over. These houses were never part of a real urban community, but rather part of the cut off world of the navy yard. It is hard to see how it would make sense to rehab for rresidential use structures fronting one of the busiest truck routes in the area. Even if they had be restorable, would it make sense to allow a low-density, necessarily upper class enclave, in that location? I care about Brooklyn history, but I don’t think that it has to be stopped everywhere circa 1910. Nonetheless I fear that I will be disappointed by the quality of the new construction. I personally think “incorporating” the existing facades into the new development would be a mistake. Far better to create an honest well-though-out new design. And btw this is right next to the 69 bus. You can’t have your brownstone fantasy land folks if you don’t allow some space for new development.

  • To quote Kander and Ebb, “Money makes the world go around, it makes the world go round.” What do we expect? I doubt that too many people in power care about serving the shopping needs of the projects. Nor do they care about preserving our architectural or even military history.They care about money. This project will make piles of money. Lower income people spend plenty of money in the supermarket, just like everyone else, and a huge mega market with parking will bring shoppers from all locations and income levels, especially when it first opens. This isn’t a bad thing, or even an undesirable use of land, but why there?

    As someone said, these houses were easily salvagable in the recent past, and I remember seeing them peeking out from the walls for years. The roofs were much more intact, as were the walls and windows, and they looked to be no harder to restore than a run down brownstone. Now, since the boys in Washington have seen fit to let them go the way of New Orleans’ levees, it’s too late, for all practical purposes. It will just cost too much. It’s the beaurocratic version of slumlording.

    So why can’t a compromise be sought? Can’t at least one of them, as well as the chapel be saved and restored? Our architectural history is more than just having old buildings around to look at. What will it take for people to understand that preserving the past is important? What would cities like Rome be like if they had actually managed to destroy the ancient past in the Middle Ages? These ancient buildings provided the inspiration for the Renaissance, and for architects and artists to this day. Our American past is much shorter, but if we leave it to the bean counters and profit hogs, we won’t have anything left to appreciate, be inspired by, or learn from. OK, Admiral’s Row is not the Baths of Caracalla, but much can be learned from studying the building practices, the form and function, the craftsmanship, and if nothing else, the history of the Navy and the people who helped make and protect this country. That’s worth saving at least a part of the Row. There is plenty of room in the Yard for a superduper market, parking and history. Why are we always in such a hurry to destroy?

  • I’m pretty sure the old brig site will have retail (and lots of housing) but not a large supermarket. And as putnam-denizen points out, it is actually right next to a bus route. It is also next to the proposed Brooklyn Greenway which will go down Flushing.

    Also loser at 1 PM is right. People have been fighting for the preservation of these buildings for a long time. But their efforts haven’t always gotten press and the Navy Yard and the City have never been very receptive. It’s true that when the shit hits the fan, people make the most noise, and people think that noone has cared up until that point. This is how people have painted anti-AY folks and the supporters of the late 2 Columbus Circle facade. But people fight for these things without being heard or don’t know what is planned so don’t get organized in time.

    I also urge those that haven’t done so, to go down to Flushing Ave. and see the buildings up close through the fence. I just did this today (for the first time REALLY looking at them) and four things jump out at you:

    1) the buildings still have a remarkable amount of original detail intact: e.g. doors, windows, etc.

    2) they are not all in as bad shape as made out to be. Sure, most of the roofs are in bad shape, but they are pretty solid masonry structures.

    3) if the trees and brush were cleared out, it would be much easier to see their state and maybe they wouldn’t seem as far gone. Also, if the Navy Yard/City had simply not allowed them to be overgrown over the years (which wouldn’t have been that difficult), much of the recent damage wouldn’t have happened.

    and 4) the space is huge and could easily incorporate a very large but not 60k sq.ft. large supermarket without tearing down all or any of the buildings.

  • I agree with putnam-denizen. That area is pretty much desolate of ammenities and deserted. It’s far from the ideal location to create luxury townhouses and condos. Bad roads, no proximity to nearby subways, sandwiched in between several housing projects. To appropriate a Ratner term, the area is blighted. It’s great to preserve history and architecture, etc, but we ought to chose our battles carefully. I think this one is a done deal. Better to learn from the mistakes of this one, build more clout and look towards saving other relics that are under the radar. Otherwise a lot of energy will be wasted on this one. And yes, putnam-denizen, the discourse on curbed was very, very putrid. But that’s curbed.

  • A couple of things:
    1) For you conspiracy theorists, you should know that the houses deteriorated while they were owned by the federal government -not the City. The City had actually been trying to get the Feds to restore the houses for the past several years – to no avail. Now the City is acquiring it to redevelop it. SO it would be false and innacurate to say that the city purposely let the houses decay to the point where they could tear them down.

    2)For those of you who are upset about the 300-car parking lot: That is actually what would be required under zoning. In order to get fewer spots than that, they’d have to apply for a zoning variance, which they may or may not get. So don’t blame the Navy Yard for the parking lot, blame your City’s outdated zoning codes.

  • What will it take for people to understand that preserving the past is important? What would cities like Rome be like if they had actually managed to destroy the ancient past in the Middle Ages? These ancient buildings provided the inspiration for the Renaissance, and for architects and artists to this day. Our American past is much shorter, but if we leave it to the bean counters and profit hogs, we won’t have anything left to appreciate, be inspired by, or learn from. OK, Admiral’s Row is not the Baths of Caracalla, but much can be learned from studying the building practices, the form and function, the craftsmanship, and if nothing else, the history of the Navy and the people who helped make and protect this country. That’s worth saving at least a part of the Row. There is plenty of room in the Yard for a superduper market, parking and history. Why are we always in such a hurry to destroy?

    the above is worth repeating. Historic buildings represent our a visual, living link to our ‘story’ – and as with people the past is what makes up who you are today. Radicals, who want to complete destroy and reinvent society, always seek to wipe out that past – that’s why destruction of historical property coincides with totalitarianism and radicalism. That is why Moses sought to do it, and why the elite seek to do it now.
    No, things don’t have be ‘frozen’ in 1910 as someone said, but historic buildings are a finite resource, and very often the artisianship and craftsmens ship not to mention design, is superior than the starichects or big box crap going up today.
    ultimately, the city reflects the values of our society.
    here’s what the NYT said of the tearing down of penn in 1964
    As a New York Times editorial critical of the demolition noted at the time, a “civilization gets what it wants, is willing to pay for, and ultimately deserves”, and an easy-to-maintain “modern” slab was precisely what the “city that never sleeps” was after

  • I’m a little confused. I thought the Navy Yard was closed to the public; that is, you needed a special pass or you had to work there in order to get in.
    So, how come they’re building a public supermarket there? Are the rules of the Navy Yard changing? Would be nice…could provide an alternate hang out spot for people who want to take a break from the promenade or prospect park, fulton mall, etc.

  • anon 2:57 is right. The Feds controlled Admiral’s Row up until last year. To get the full Admiral’s Row story, check out this document from the NYC CPC:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/0504630464.pdf

    I will rescind any and all blame laid on the City for the years of deterioration (they’re only blamable for 1 year). I’ll admit to when I am wrong.

    It’s also interesting to read about the steps taken, or not taken, by the City and various preservation groups (even though the city didn’t control the site yet):

    “the Commission notes that in 1994 the
    City prepared a Preliminary Case Report (PCR) that explored all potential alternatives for preservation of Admirals Row. The report concluded that none of the preservation alternatives explored were financially or structurally feasible and recommended demolition of the houses and mitigation in the form of photographic documentation meeting the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). In 1995,
    SHPO accepted the conclusion of the PCR and recommended that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) be executed requiring HABS documentation prior to demolition. In 1996, an MOA was executed and signed by the Army Corps of Engineers, SHPO,
    BNYDC and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). In April, 2005 the
    BNYDC performed all required HABS documentation and in June, 2005 SHPO accepted this documentation as complete. The Commission believes that all required documentation has been completed and no further study is necessary.”

    Conspiracy buffs should look at the PCR filed by the City in 1994 and the subsequent agreement by the SHPO and the LPC. What “potential alternatives” did the PCR look at? Couldn’t they have tried to save at least one or two of the buildings that front Flushing Ave? Did the PCR look at potential rehabilitation incentives that are available or think about what kind of earmarks New York’s Congressional representation could have pursued? And why didn’t they act on it then instead of waiting 12 years?

    And yes, 3:10, the BNY is private but this portion is somewhat separated from the rest of the Yard. It can be easily kept separate from the rest of the private Yard. It would indeed be nice if the Yard was more open at least to allow public access to its historic sites (the Dry Dock #1, Surgeon’s House, and Naval Hospital are all NYC Landmarks). Hopefully that’s something they’ll do in the future.

  • The zoning laws probably require that many parking spaces, since the proposed mega store is so mega. Just don’t build such a huge store, and try and not destroy all the buildings. If this site is near the 69 bus, then have more 69 busses during the busiest shopping hours and people could take the bus if they pick up a few bags of groceries.

    Why everything has to be so car-centric is beyond me. The thought should be for public transit, bike and walking paths and then cars as the last thing, not the first. If you make is easy for people to drive place, of course they will drive places. But if you make it more convent to walk, bike or use public transport, then people can do so.

    Unless you are driving a bio fuel car and using corn (or the leftover fry grease from your local Mickey D’s) then you are contributing to USA’s dependence on fossil fuel, and USA’s need to go to war to try and get our grubby hands on more oil.

  • So, Anon 2:51, are you saying that because you don’t see the houses going for luxury condos, the place is not worthy of preservation? What an elitist attitude! Not everything good or worthy is reserved for the rich. Historic buildings can be, and have been renovated for use by everyone from the homeless to low income, mid income to high end. It may take more effort to get funding for some projects over others, but it is possible, and not only that, is necessary. If you teach people that anything historical is not for them, because they aren’t good enough, you are well on the road to a civilization’s distruction. History belongs to everyone.

    Your comment reminds me of a heated thread here some time ago regarding whether or not the people in these very same projects “deserve” to live in an area with a great view. Thank goodness we have not yet reached the science fiction world where the poor and undesirable all live underground or beneath the gleaming towers of the rich, although sometimes it seems we are well on the way.

  • Even though I’m a staunch preservationist, in this case I have to say a compromise would be the best thing to do: build a supermarket, but incorporate the existing structures, as many (smart) people have already proposed on here. As heartbreaking as it is, total preservation would be prohibitively expensive, and then what? They’d try to sell them as expensive homes to the type of families who spend $10 mil on a Park Slope brownstone. Except none of them would ever buy a place next to a housing project (not unless the Tea Lounge opened up a new branch there- zing!) You can’t exactly imagine them pushing their Bugaboo Frog strollers along Flushing Ave, can you?

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the preservation of Chelsea Market as an example of how to develop a historic structure responsibly. I’m lucky enough to work there and I am always heartened by the the preservation that was done there. It’s as interesting a piece of architecture as any of these sterile glass-and-steel buildings in the city.

    P.S. Does anyone have good walking directions on how to get to Admiral’s Row if I want to take a look at the houses before the wrecking ball comes in? I’m a Greenpointer so I’m not too familiar with the area- could I take the G to Flushing? Many thanks.

  • Whole FOods? Sure rhe farragut houses folk can then stock up on Frois Gras?

  • this area is just north/east of the manhattan bridge, so if you’re taking the G, perhaps get off at Fulton and then walk towards the east river till you hit flushing.

    i’ve always wondered about the full block vacant lot that is more or less across the street from admirals row (it might be a few blocks away). any known plans for that land?

    admirals row is a shame. i hope that whatever ends up there helps the neighborhood out.

  • Those of you who have suggested that since the redhook fairway and chelsea market re-used historic buildings to create food markets it could be done here are missing a big point. Both of those projects involved re-using large flexible warehouse structures, which work well for supermarkets. The buildings at Admirals row are 10 individual houses – each one about 3-5,000 SF. Not conducive to conversion into a supermarket at all.

    Also, the Navy Yard has said repeatedly that they are not looking at whole foods and are targeting supermarket operators who would be appropriate given the surrounding neighborhood. The names that I’ve heard thrown arown (from reliable sources) are Pathmark, Stop and Shop, and Shopright.

    And for the guy who wants to see it: Take the F to york Street. Make a right on York and go till the end. Make a right on Navy Street and go up up one block till the corner of Flushing Avenue.

  • i’m actually a girl, but thank you to anon 5:10 and 6:05! i’ll have to go check it out and weep as i clutch the chain link fence.

  • If the city, or the Navy Yards for-profit administration, had one ounce of interest in trying to save these buildings they would have put out a RFP (request for proposals) in order to see what developers would save at least some portions of some of the facades of those buildings. The Fort Greene Association and the organization that represents the residents in the nearby Housing Projects joined forces to try to get this to happen. But thanks to David Yassky who did nothing to make this occur it couldn’t happen. I can’t remember the technicalities, but I believe because much of this development site/historical site falls in his district he would have had to stepped up at some point to try to save them — or at least get the city council to allow them to try to save the buildings. He was lobbied and he is against anything but full-on development. So folks remember this at election time! Ask your local candidates how they feel and more importantly, what they’ve done, about preservation issues; ie: Admiral’s Row and Atlantic Yards related issues.

  • Read most of the points until they got around the circle…I sent my letter to marty, my grandma worked in the yards in ww2, and I worked there briefly and shared the dream of living there too (see early responses), but given the cost of restoration and their relative isolation (a block from the bqe, and god knows flushing ave has seen better days) maybe just let it go and make sure gov’s island doesn’t turn into some vegas nonsense, since the same type of buildings are all over the island. You can always hop out to snug harbor for similar stuff too. The feds did own the property; chalk up another victoy in the feds general desire to screw new york (more).

  • So our choice is spend millions to repair some broke down houses so yuppies can pay 20 buck a head to look at them, or get a big box super store/super market so yuppies can shop and park their cars. HMMMMMM. How about a new high school, build some more public housing, get nike to open a sneaker factory, build a new public pool, a park. I mean this is “public land” isn’t it. Why does it have to make money. Why can’t it be used to build community.

  • history is worth preserving, that being said, ive been in those abandoned rowhouses and there is very little or nothing left to preserve.

    At the same time, i can’t help but think most recent preservation efforts are unconscious real estate agrandizement schemes led by rich folks who moved to the city (and borough) recently.

    I know its cynical, but those buildings, and the rail yards for that matter, have need restoration or preservation forever.

  • 1) Anon 7:33, The Brooklyn Navy Yard Developmenr Corp (BNYDC)is actually a non-profit organization. That being said, it would be accurate to say that they are taking into account the profitability of any development alternative on the site? Why? It’s public land, right Anon 9:37? Well yes and no. BNYDC gets rent revenue from the industrial tenants in the Yard and uses that to operate, maintain and upgrade the Yard. It’s pretty expensive to maintain the yard, since the infrastructure is very old and it’s a waterfront environment, which is pretty harsh. Right now BNYDC collects enough money to cover their operating expenses, but not enough to cover their capital expenses. THe City gives them money for their capital budget. Look at City Hall’s press release about this event and you’ll see they mention that the City has given them $70 Million to upgrade the infrastructure in the past couple of years, and has committed to over $100 million more in the next several years. But at some point, the money from the city for infrastructure will stop flowing so BNYDC needs to start makin enough money from its existing assets to cover the huge capital costs. THat’s why this site can’t be a park or whatever Anon 9:37 wanted. ALso there is already a park with a pool, and a public school, across the street.

    2) For those who have suggested that there’s enough room on the site for a supermaket and the houses, take a look at the Navy Yard’s master plan (they showed it on the NY1 peice for a couple of seconds and I paused it on Tivo to take a good look at it). It looks like they cut the 6-acre site in half into two rectagles. The 3 acre rectangle facing the street (where the houses currently are) is where they want to build the supermarket. On the 3 acres behind that it looks like they have planned a fairly big industrial building. Don’t know the exact size, but assuming the drawing is to scale, it appears to be around the same size as the supermarket. So you really have a choice there. Assuming the supermarket is a given, you could a supermarket and the houses, or the supermarket and a new industrial building. I know most of you yuppies would prefer the houses in that scenario because they’re pretty. But brooklyn really needs new industrial buildings where people can work alot more than it needs another 1870′s house converted into a cool place where you can buy coffee and look at pretty moldings.
    3) Finally, the site is still not owned by the city – the feds still own it. It was approved for transfer to the city about a year ago, but that trasnfer still hasn’t happened. Some kind of federal beaurocracy that they have to go through. SO you can’t blame the City for the last year’s deterioration either. And that mile long blue tape sign inly went up about six months ago (and is down now) so don’t act like that guy has been doing something pro-active to save these houses for a long time. He’s as big of a reactinary as the rest of them.

  • dittoburg

    why not knock down the projects instead. The people who don’t live there don’t like them, the people who live there don’t like them either. Get rid of them. And why not knock down the Commandant’s house too and put up a boxy Holiday Inn.

  • This is just another example of the “progress” that we are all forced to endure in Brooklyn under the guise of it being “good for the community”. Yes, the community does need a supermarket, so if you say you’re against it, then you are branded as being against people in the neighborhood. If you say that you’re against Atlantic yards, you are branded as a selfish yuppie who is against housing for the poor. But like everything, like AY and Brooklyn Bridge Park and everything else going on, it’s all about money, who’s got and who doesn’t and who stands to make it. None of these people involved, not Bloomberg or Markowitz or the developers give a crap about the community or history or anything else. It’s all about the almighty dollar. And we can all blog about it until the cows come home, but as long as we keep electing the Bloombergs and Markowitzes of the world, it’s going to go on and on as it always has.

  • Excuse me, but isn’t there a sprawling NYPD impound lot just a block north of Admiral’s Row in the Navy Yard? That site is actually more centrally located to the Farragut Houses than Admiral’s Row–at Sands and Navy Sts.–and from google earth it looks like it contains more land, too. Why doesn’t the city get the developer of a supermarket to build a several-story impound garage for the police department in exchange for the land to build a supermarket and supermarket-parking garage on the site? Then that wall on Navy St. could come down, that stretch of Navy St. wouldn’t be nearly as desolate, and they could build a fence around the back of the site to keep the Navy Yard self-contained. Wouldn’t that solve everything?

  • agreed, what the heck is an ugly impound lot doing on such valuable real estate, or if you prefer, why does the city put an ugly impound lot right next to the projects?

  • part of the impound lot will also be redeveloped as part of the seven-building — show of hands; how many of you pontificators actually read the press release? — project

  • This is what you do: Save what you can of the old buildings….create a museum devoted to the history of the navy yard based in those old bdlgs.
    Then build around them with new construction scaled to match exactly what was saved…have retail in those new bdlgs. to help cover the costs of running the museum….and place the big parking garage and supermarket in one of the old hanger/boat bdlgs that sit empty as we speak.

    Develop the areas within the navy yeard that now sit with bdlgs/sq. footage unused.

  • when making your proposals, would you please also post your curriculum vitae and a pro forma, just so we can see how much real world training/experience you have and we can analyze the financial viabilty? thanks; this ought to kick up the quality a notch or two.

  • The Navy Yard has been working on this plan for the better part of 4 years. All of you haters have been thinking about this issue for 4 minutes.

    In the process of working on this plan, the Navy Yard has done alot of reserach, incuding long conversations with officials at City Hall, discussion with the NYPD (about moving the tow pound). They’ve conducted alot of indepth research icluding hiring one of the regions leading real estate market research firms, and one of the regions leading urban design/site planning firms. They’ve consulted with several preservationists, including hiring a preservation architect to analyze what it would take to renovate these houses and what it would cost. They’ve also had in-depth conversatins with both the city’s landmark preservation commission, and the state historic preservatin office. The’ve also opened their doors and invited several of the neighbrohood activists into thier office and listened to their concerns. They have reached out to all the local elected officials, including the local council people and the community board and have held several open houses for neighborhood residents, including the residents of the neighborhing projects to come in and hear about the plans, and to ask questions. FInally, they’ve hired an arborist to analyze the condition of the trees on the site to see if any of the beautiful trees on the site could be saved, they’ve had discussions with the brooklyn waterfron greenway about running the greenway through the site, and have hired a repsected cultural resource consultant to prepare an in-depth documentation of the buildings on the site.

    You all have read a three paragraph posting on brownstoner, and maybe have even read the official press release. DO you really think that you’re gonna think of something off the top of your head that they haven’t considered and dismissed for reasons that you’re not aware of? You’ve got to be willing to accept the fact that there are peices of this story that you dont know, since you know so little about it.

  • the feds let these fine buildings fall apart over decades of neglect, not the city. the navy yd has a solid record on historical preservation and this story might have had a different ending had the yard fallen into possession of adm row, which it still does not own to this day. the local councilwoman takes preservation seriously and has come to the conclusion that the supermarket is the way to go. she has expressed concern about diet/nutrition problems among pub hsg residents. navy yd has been tlaking w her and other communtiy reps for years about disposition of site and a communtiy consensus has largely formed around the supermarket plan, as i understand it. estimated price tag of restoration runs from $30-50M. high!! local land values prohibit supermarket development anywhere near these public housing developments. it is essential that preservationists not be dismissive of the legitimate issue of local nutritional needs. there is nowhere to buy fresh produce in a neighborhood facing challenges and social problems. I have been surprised to see that there have been adm row preservationist quotes that have been highly disdainful of the local need for fresh food. this reflects a cultural/social blind spot and steers toward a cultural elitism that is unbecoming of the spirit of preservation and honoring our communities. some of these comments reflect a weird kind of snobbery and coldness to communtiy realities. I believe we must bear in mind that preservation is not an abstract absolute pristine principle — but rather a principle that must stand in the context of local community/social interests and objective facts. i exhort activists to exercise wisdom and discretion in this matter. i hope all will eschew kneejerk unconsidered activism that seems to be driven by a cursory reading of headlines — rather than a full examination of local circumstances. thus I urge: be objective about admirals row