Closing Bell: Ward’s Bakery Demolition Imminent

After the (ab)use of eminent domain, the destruction of Ward’s Bakery is number 2 on our list of grievances about the Atlantic Yards project, so it was with a heavy heart that we read this week’s dispatch from the ESDC. According to the alert, demolition will begin (or should that be continue?) within the next two weeks on the building. What a shame that Ratner couldn’t have thrown the preservationists a bone on this one. The demo company with its name plastered to the protective netting clearly has no qualms in its role in destroying a slice of Brooklyn history.
Ward’s Bakery Collapse: The Photos [Brownstoner] GMAP

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  • dung deal, donedeal, dumbdeal, done deal, D-O-N-E-D-E-A-L!!!

    This fight is only beginning.

    Our lawsuit shall prevail.

    Our politicians will be elected.

    America is outraged at abuse of eminent domain.

    Traffic, smog, pedestrian deaths, asthma, affordable housing, jobs, donedeal, dungdeal.

  • That song changed my opinion…

    It was such a terrible song I now support the AY development just so I won’t be associated with guys like that.

  • Sorry to see history go, but I’m ready to move forward.

  • is it too late to move the illegal 475 Kent Street matzo factory here?


  • in post 1, apparently the former iraqi information minister has found

  • Demolitino is a Gateway drug.

  • Where were the proposals for this building before AY came along?

    Successful preservation has to include establishing relationships with good developers, inviting them to submit proposals, and being proactive and being on the inside of city planning. Not just reacting and protesting everything. Everyone in this neighborhood walked past this building every day and never gave it a moment’s thought until it was being torn down.

  • This makes even less sense. LEED needs some serious revisions.

    Over 75% of Building to be Recycled as Part of LEED Certification
    (Brooklyn, NY) – March 22, 2007 – Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, today announced that abatement and demolition of 800 Pacific Street (also known as the Ward Bread Bakery building) will begin on Monday, March 26, 2007. 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.
    “Obtaining LEED certification for Atlantic Yards is one of the highest ‘green’ standards we can achieve,” said Bruce Ratner, President and CEO of FCRC. “Whether it is recycling building materials, using low emission vehicles or reducing storm water overflows into the Gowanus Canal by more than 2 million gallons per year, we are seeking out every possible way to make Atlantic Yards as eco-friendly and environmentally responsible as possible.”

  • 5:23pm: There were plans for the Ward Bakery far pre-dating AY. I believe it was going to be a hotel. Like most of the buildings in the AY footprint, development before AY was announced was taking place steadily and organically. The large loft building on Pacific nr the corner of Carlton had, for example, already got to about 80% completion of a renovation to create residential space.

    Elizabeth: FCRC boasting about their “green” demolition is a bitter pill to the residents of Dean St who have already had to endure asbestos abatement work done without basic precautions and water and gas cut-offs without ESDC mandated warnings.

    My prediction: For the next 10 years, the block btw Pacific and Dean/Carlton and Vanderbilt will be a chain-link fence encircled, crime infested, litter strewn park-and-ride lot where once perfectly viable buildings stood.

  • “America is outraged at abuse of eminent domain.”

    This may be an overstatement.

  • Gee here’s hoping 5:43! Better a empty lot than you’re prediction by wrong, right?

    Free Mumia!

  • “5:23pm: There were plans for the Ward Bakery far pre-dating AY. I believe it was going to be a hotel.”

    See, this was a MUCH better plan than AY!

  • LEEEEEDS!!!!! That is the biggest laugh!


    All they’re probably doing is using the building’s masonry for rumble infill somewhere and pulling what steel they can out and selling it. Hhhh…like THAT’S somehow going to make them go LEEDS Platinum. WHAT a laugh!

    Was it LEEDS compliant when that huge parapet fell/was made to fall off the building?!

    With all those cars–what like a dozen–that got totalled…was that LEEDS compliant?

    Probably all those cars got junked AND the storm sewers probably took a shatload of motor oil, brake fluid and gasoline with that one big accident…hello.

    All it takes is one can of motor oil dumped into a waterway and millions upon millions of creatures can be killed.

    Are massive towers that easily LEEDS compliant? Come on! Hhhhh…

    What they’re proposing to use compact fluorescent bulbs and Energy Star rated dishwashers? Big deal.

    Just on the face of it, with the kind of Environmental Impact “Study” they pumped out (BS…cut…paste…click…print…) reveals they are hardly serious about LEEDS

    The EIS is just about as thorough as a lousy house inspection doc you get from a cut’n’paste home inspector. Please. There should be years of hardcore study done on this project. That it were in Germany…Hhhh…oh, well.

    It’s another taxpayer boondoggle that will drain the coffers and stick it in the hands of campaign donors/buddies.

  • Brownstoner: Stick to the facts. ABuse? Funny, but none of the courts have ruled that way, to date. But I guess you know better than they what constitutes appropriate use of existing legal mechanisms. If you want to change the law, that’s OK with me. But don’t make an ass of yourself second-guessing established laws and recent case law.

  • i still scratch my head over why anyone would not support AY. What amazing vision. bringing the Nets to Brooklyn! it’s so great! it’s so big, so bold, so over the top – and, it’s happening!!!
    i can’t believe how anyone would have preferred the absolute craphole that it was / is. it’s awful.

    the anti-AY people are so scared, so small, so un-entreprenurial.

    bring it on!

    screw a stupid old bakery – are you kidding??? it’s frickin’ useless.

    good by train tracks meets ghetto meets dumping ground – hello Nets! hello parks! hello shiny pretty buildings!

    hooray hooray hooray

    I LOVE IT.

  • Guest at 6:26,
    Can’t tell if you really understand the eminent domain debate.

    Sure…a court may dismiss a case or rule against it…but seeing your lack of understanding of the debate, it seems you probably a good understanding of the mechanisms and foibles of the judiciary.

    This coming from someone who is a bystander. I am not the original writer you are commenting on. Just find your ignorance of “the system” and your “trust in the man” attitude tiresome and part of the problem.

    I’m sorry if you see yourself as a legal scholar…looks like you need to live a little and grow up no matter your level of education in matters legal.

  • Guest at 6:44,

    People who happen to oppose this huge boondoggle/theft of the coffers, who happen to balk at the expected noblesse oblige reflex (that we need to bend down to power/money/arms) and divest ourselves of our taxpayer dollars for private wealth creation…

    People who happen to know that this project is a white elephant, an environmental and social nightmare AND, one that will, if built as planned, just end up creating a space for non-local mass corporate merchandising and further destroy local businesses as it has and continues happening in Brooklyn…

    These people are “un-entrepreneurial”?

    You’re an ass.


    Guest at 6:26,
    Can’t tell if you really understand the eminent domain debate.

    Sure…a court may dismiss a case or rule against it…but seeing your lack of understanding of the debate, it seems you also probably lack a good understanding of the mechanisms and foibles of the judiciary.

    This coming from someone who is a bystander: I am not the original writer you are commenting on. Just find your ignorance of “the system” and your “trust in the man” attitude tiresome and part of the problem.

    I’m sorry if you see yourself as a legal scholar…looks like you need to live a little and grow up no matter your level of education in matters legal.

  • Actually, 5:43, I believe the “plans” for a hotel were filed after FCRC announced its project and only existed to drive up the price when the building changed hands.

  • LEED,unfortunately, is becoming like the “teach to the test” debate in schools; “build for the LEED,” not necessarily for actual benefit. Until LEED forces reuse, you’ll continue to see torn down buildings getting LEED points for the minimal recycling that goes on.

    Destroying a building and its “embodied energy” is much worse for the environment than rebuilding, but that’s too complicated an equation for LEED certification.

    For a really egregious take on LEED, check out for a story on a 24-story personal residence that could become LEED-certified.

  • CMU & 6:22PM,
    Thank you for your words on this!

  • 7:02 sorry, guess not everyone has you crystal ball to see in to the future.

    hope you get your way so AY can die so we can all continue to enjoy the lovely view of unused train tracks, drug deals going down and litter up and down the streets. yum. what a delightful area!

    long live the ghetto!

    You are soooo stupid how have survived this far??

    you have ZERO evidence to back your claims. you are so tired and small time.

    please get out of the way of the movers and shakers.

  • If Bruce Ratner is allowed to destroy the Ward Building it will be high on the list of viciously, cynical and hostile acts toward the community, and it will have come about through the sloven irresponsibility of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Spitzer.

    If the Ward Building is destroyed, then one of the penalties that should be assessed Mr. Ratner (and perhaps Mr. Bloomberg should be expected to kick in) is that he should supply sufficient funds to rebuild a replica of this beautiful building when his megadevelopment is not built. The Ward Building’s beautiful repeating graceful arches should be a focal point and defining feature running along side of a new Ward Park in a responsible neighborhood design for the area such as the Pacific Plan or the community Unity Plan.

    The idea that a building which is such a significant asset should be destroyed twenty years prior to the time that anything currently intended to replace it would be built is reprehensible. (Even though what is to replace is “supposed” to replace it in less than a decade, the reality is that it would almost certainly take far longer, twenty years being a better estimation.) Twenty years, perhaps more of parking-lot-barreness! Acting with his base, typical hostility to the community Ratner is consciously seeking to increase blight in the area in hopes that it will, by design, increase support for a project which is utterly indefensible, (more than 2000 people at the Markowitz’s State of the Borough including anyone who might support Markowitz and nobody would clap for Atlantic Yards though Marty mentioned it twice?- And if the project is going to absorbing over a billion dollars of misdirected funds- takes a moment to reflect and do some addition: the subsidies, tax breaks, $637.2+ million arena and other public costs add up to more than billion- why try and credit it as “worthwhile” with ONLY two quick mentions?- And on the horizon we have Bloomberg, Doctoroff and Quinn all with their glimmering disavowals of the megadevelopment and process?)

    Though this was announced a few months ago Ratner is in the scheme of things moving quickly to get rid himself of this building. Ratner is also trying to tear down the building quickly, not because it makes sense from the community standpoint, but because he fears that community will eventually rally to save the building as it should. It should not be out of site or out of mind just because it is currently shrouded or because of the odd parapet collapse that occurred before it was shrouded. Nor should it depart our consciousness because of Ratner’s “done deal” mantra. Even those in Albany who think that some first phase of this megadevelopment might ever get in the ground, sincerely doubt that all of the rest of it will built by Ratner as planned. That means there is a lot of conventional wisdom in Albany of which Spitzer is perfectly aware that Ratner will never build anything on the Ward Building site. How slovenly and cynical not to preserve the option of putting this landmark to good future use for the community!

    Ratner would like, especially, to tear down the Ward Building before Bloomberg leaves office because he fears that when mayoral control over the Landmarks Preservation Commission changes, the building will be landmarked. Landmarking is tool members of the community have looked into to save the building. I have been told that the commission’s chairman, Commissioner Tierney has indicated, off the record, that but for the politics of this affair which do not give him a free hand, the commission’s handling of the Ward Building would be different. Even if this had not been confided to me, I would suspect as much. We might expect that in a neutral environment the Ward Building would be preserved and utilized in a wonderful way as the extraordinary asset it is and as architect Doug Hamilton envisioned in his Pacific Plan. Why not let this building and these associated options persist for a while longer so that when the Ratner plan dies its deserved death the community will still have beauty and possibilities rather than blight?

    The State Historic Preservation Office’s failure to preserve this building under the guise that it would be work to do so is likewise politically suspect. Given that the building was functioning and in use well through the 90s, it is hard to think it would need an amount of restoration unusual for a landmark. Spitzer could change this. Does he care enough about the community to do so?

    The block on which the Ward Building is built is also a block which is NOT over the rail yards and is NOT where the planned arena is being located. It is also OUTSIDE the boundaries of the City’s 40-year-old urban renewal plan precisely because it was envisioned that keeping the Ward Building and its neighbors had value (In 1968 the bakery was functioning and the building was functioning well through the 90s- Apart from its functional value, its special value as a landmark may well have also been recognized as self evident)- There is no ostensible purpose for condemning this block that can be offered with a straight face, a fact which is more starkly evident by the way the site plan wrenches in peculiar and irregular fashion around the neighboring Boymelgreen block in order that condemnations may be effected. The reason for this abuse of eminent domain is that Ratner will make a greater profit on this block after the zoning override and below-market condemnation prices because he won’t have any platform building expenses. Were it not for the City paying to gift him 100% of the cost of the $637.2+ million arena, this might be the greatest windfall Ratner is trying to engineer.

    As I said, if the Ward Building is ever destroyed, a replica of it should be rebuilt and Ratner should be assessed the funds to do that. The rebuilt replica can stand as a monument to the community’s fight with Ratner’s vandalism.

    I am watching with interest what’s going on in Yonkers with Forest City Ratner’s “Ridge Hill” project where federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas to five Yonkers’ City Council members asking for all records related to the controversial “Ridge Hill” plan. Perhaps just to calm me down I will entertain the fantasy that one thing will lead to another and prosecutors will flip RICO defendants domino fashion with other stories cascading out so that we learn more about what is happening in Brooklyn. Wouldn’t it be nice if Ratner had to fund the rebuilding of the Ward Building as part of RICO plea? On the other hand, maybe it is not such a total fantasy.

  • As a neighbor of the Ward Bread Building, I’d like to straighten out a few facts about the building as well as its recent ownership and operation.

    The Ward Bread Building was built as a state-of-art industrial bread bakery show piece a century ago. It continued as a bread factory until the mid 1990s. It was then purchased by a moving and storage company called Time Moving and Storage who put a substantial sum into renovating the building in total. They operated their business in the building up through the period the Atlantic Yards Project was announced in the fall of 2003. Time Moving and Storage then sold their building for over 20 million dollars to the developer Boymelgreen who chose to compete for the building with Forest City Ratner after the project was announced. Boymelgreen publicized the hotel proposal, and then sold it to FCRC for over forty million dollars six months later.

    The confusion about the recent past of the Ward Bread Building is reasonable given the inaccurate descriptions that have appeared in press like the Brooklyn Eagle which reported last summer that the building had been vacant for decades. This was wholly inaccurate. Neighbors of the building, (many like me were inside and outside the building ), know that as of 2003 when the project was announced the building was recently renovated, well maintained, and that the business inside was a good neighbor.

    The parapet collapse last April did happen in the context of a big rally and calls from almost all of our elected officials for the building not to be demolished two weeks earlier. According to the analysis by the Department of Buildings the cause of the parapet collapse was poor coordination from FCRC who knew some of the support braces for the parapet had been removed, and still scheduled both demolition work and asbestos abatement at the same time on it using mechanical instruments like chippers which resemble jack-hammers.

    The building is now being demolished and in its place will be an empty lot which will function as a parking lot for construction workers, a construction staging area of unprecendented size and finally a surface parking lot for arena patrons. That lot will be the largest parking lot in Brooklyn and an unnecessary, unhealthy scourge not just for Atlantic Yards’ neighbors but for the whole surrounding area for the next twenty years, if not longer.