It’s Curtains for Most of Admiral’s Row

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Despite the best efforts of preservationists, who generated a number of proposals detailing how the Admiral’s Row structures could be maintained while also allowing for the construction of a supermarket, most of the historic buildings on the Navy Yard site are slated to be demolished, according to Crain’s. The Timber Shed (above) and one of the 10 other buildings on the site will be preserved, according to a statement released by Andrew Kimball, president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp, who also said that a request for proposals for a developer to build a supermarket and manufacturing space will go out in the next 90 days. The process will result in the redevelopment of what has become a blighted eyesore that has burdened the community and the Brooklyn Navy Yards for decades, said Kimball. While the news is a blow for preservationists, it’s certainly not an unexpected one.
Admiral’s Row Demolition Near [Crain's]
Ugly Politics May Trump Reason in Admiral’s Row Saga [Brownstoner]
Admiral’s Row: Up Close and Personal [Brownstoner]
MAS Floats Plans to Preserve Admiral’s Row & Build Market [Brownstoner]
Public Hearing on Admiral’s Row Held Last Night [Brownstoner]
Pratties Have ‘Cake-and-Eat-It’ Design for Admiral’s Row [Brownstoner]
Guard Starts Talks ‘To Come Up With Alternatives’ For Row [Brownstoner]
James Opens Door to (Partial) Admiral’s Row Preservation [Brownstoner]
Officers’ Row Supermarket Not Happening Anytime Soon [Brownstoner]
Admiral’s Row: Feds Must ‘Consider’ Preservation [Brownstoner]
Admiral’s Row: “Extremely High Level of Historic Integrity” [Brownstoner]
Officers’ Row: Let’s Have Our Cake and Eat It Too [Brownstoner]
Officers’ Row Preservation Coming to a Contentious Head [Brownstoner]
For Officer’s Row, Supermarket All But Certain [Brownstoner]

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  • Truly heartbreaking. Though in reality not as heartbreaking as the decades during which they languished in complete neglect and lack of any concern whatsoever. Such a shame.

  • A shame indeed! One word comes to mind about the people who let this languish…..Asshats.

  • Maly

    this makes me really sad. It is truly regrettable when out of generations of politicians, not one has the vision to champion this obvious historical gem. Well restored, it could be the seed of a great neighborhood. It sickens me how much money was squandered for that crappy AY project, and the Admiral’s row is not given a chance.

  • I agree with everyone above. What a wasted opportunity in the preservation of our city’s history. The old photo of Row will make a lovely bronze placque for the side of the supermarket, above the rows of shopping carts.

    What gets me is that from day one, it was a done deal. They never really gave any of the plans that were offered to restore the Row and also build a market a chance. It’s like performing a great audition for a part that has always been planned to go the producer’s girlfriend. What gets me is the pious carrying on about the needs of the community, like that is an actual priority. I think making this brouhaha go away is the priority, along with a manufacturing building, something that hadn’t been mentioned until recently. I have to disagree with Tish on this one, although I understand where she’s coming from. I think the community is HER priority, but the Navy Yard? Not so much.

    I’m glad they are preserving the Timber Shed and one other building, and hopefully Ben Porter can get them to add another building to the list. I guess I should be happy with something, and I am, but it could have been much, much more.

  • The old NY Post headline was: “Ford to City: Drop Dead!”
    but there should also have been another headline that read:
    “US Navy to Brooklyn: Drop Dead and Rot Away!”

  • Can we move on now??

    The What (Cry me a river)

    Someday this war is gonna end…

  • This is just depressing. And why a supermarket? Why not a pretty area near the river with a cafe and non profit office and arts space as in the San Francisco Presidio? Or both?

  • benson

    Shalom all;

    Just back from a quick business trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.

    All I can say is: great news! Finally some common sense on this issue. I shed no tear to see mediocre housing of the type that can be found in many a midwest city bite the dust,when there are much more pressing concerns in this city.

  • Mopar – becuase unlike san francisco, brookly still has an industrial base and the rest of the yard is filled with dirty unnnatractive small businesses who build, maintain, and distrubute all of the little stuff that we don’t like to think about but are essential. It’s hard to have a riverside cafe right next to an active dry dock that is repairing oil barges.

  • Gabi and Mr. B really need to get over their obvious bias on this issue and describe the “alternative” plan more accurately and honestly. It was a plan that showed how the existing buildings could theoretically be kept on the site while finding space for the new program elements (supermarket, parking, industrial building). Although how succesfully it does that is debatable (see my comments on yesterday’s AR post). It does not tackle the actual issue which would be how to fund that plan – which has always been the reason that BNYDC has rejected these “alternatives” that don’t make any economic sense.

  • I think the main difference between the way the military dealt with the officers houses in Brooklyn and the officers houses in San francisco is that the Presidio is located in a White part of the city and Fort Greene back when the Navy walked away from its properties, was perceived as a classic Black ghetto.
    The ultra-White Navy brass figured that the navy houses along with the rest of the neighborhood would likely be burned down or plowed under in a few years anyway.

  • benson

    Sam;

    What in the world are you talking about?

    The military dealt with the Navy Yard in exactly the same way it dealt with the Presidio: it sold the complex to the municipal government. In the case of the Navy Yard, the city formed an oversight authority (which I believe was called by the acronym of “CLICK”) which was one of the most incompetent and corrupt bodies that ever existed in the 5 boroughs. The Board of Directors was packed with political cronies who knew nothing about running an industrial yard. I remember that one of the cronies was deputy mayor Cavanaugh. There were a series of scandals concerning this authority back in the 70′s. Basically, they did nothing towards the development of the Yard, except to line their pockets.

    Fortunately, the Yard is run in a much more business-like manner these days.

  • Benson – all that is true except not relevent to Admirals Row, which was not sold to the municipality, but transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers, who neglected it and let it rot. EIther way, it didn’t rot because of the ultra-white Navy Brass. It rotted because of neglect by the Army Corpso of Engineers.

  • benson

    Bkre;

    OK – thanks for the correction!

    By the way, your comment regarding San Francisco versus Brooklyn is spot-on.

  • The corps did not want this property, the navy just handed it to them like some hot potato as they packed up their white suits and ran towards their staff cars to beat a hasty retreat from fort apache.
    You guys shouldn’t sugar-coat the past.

  • benson

    Sam;

    Usually you provide some of the most level-headed analysis on this site, but I think you are way off on this one friend.

    I am not denying that there was racism in our nation’s history. However, I do not believe in throwing out the charge of racism into past history, unless there is some evidence of it, which you have not provided. Moreover, you are implying that racism was the sole factor in acounting for the military’s actions, despite the fact that, in general, they were WAY ahead of US civilian society in overcoming racial attitudes.

    I had three uncles who worked in the Navy yard, and I suggest that you read up on its sad latter days before you draw a conclusion. The Brooklyn Navy Yard in the 50′s and 60′s had quite low productivity, and much of it can be attributed to labor issues. Moreover, the yard suffered from another intractable problem: it is located upriver from the Brooklyn Bridge span, which is at a relatively low clearance to the river. The low clearance made it increasingly difficult to build modern warships from there.

  • benson,

    I believe the US Navy lagged behind all other branches of the service in integrating its ranks, especially officers. Annapolis was not exacly known as a diverse place.
    Former military housing in other parts of the city from Fort Totten to Governor’s Island somehow was prevented from falling into a state of dereliction. So why were these houses abandoned as if they were contaminated with radioactive dust?
    Look, I think it is too late for these buildings. they are too far gone and now they should just pull the plug. What really bothers me are the historical reasons that allowed them to reach their current disgraceful condition.

  • benson

    Sam;

    Once again you are just making assertions without evidence. There is no derelict housing in other military installations in the city?!?!?!?!?! Really!?!?!? Have you ever been to Fort Tilden near Breezy Point, Queens (an all-white area)? The former housing is sitting there, derelict as can be, just a few steps away from the visitor’s parking lot. There are also derelict structures in Floyd Bennett Field, another former military installation (see Forgotten NY for some photos). Floyd Bennett Field is also in a white area.

    Come on, Sam!!

  • I am not familiar with Fort Tilden. I am familiar with Fort Totten and those buildings, including the officers’ mansions, are A-OK. On Governor’s Island the Coast Guard made a real effort to maintain the property.

  • I’m not going to wade into the racism debate, but as I understand it, the Army Corps of Engineers requested the property from the Navy because they planned on using it to build some form of training facility. That training facility never came to be and the Army Corps just forgot about it and let it rot. There may or may not have been racism at the Navy Yard, but according to my understanding that’s not what brought us to where we are today. Racism is bad, and insensitivity to historic buildings is also bad (although probably less so).

  • I still believe this is the best one-sentence summation of the disagreement:

    “In short, the preservationists acted as if the issue were about layout of the site and not about financial feasibility end use – which is what it’s always been about.

    Posted by: Make My Heights the P Heights at April 1, 2009 1:19 PM”

  • Actually it wasn’t the Corp of Engineers. It was the National Guard Bureau which was wholly underfunded for its mission. The CG which had made Governors Island its national headquarters for a long time was adequately funded until it was decided to close the base completely. Floyd Bennett has been in the City’s hands a very long time….

  • Benson, you have some good stuff here, but I have to vehemently disagree with you in your assertion that because the Row houses (to you) aren’t anything special, and can be found anywhere, that they are no big loss.

    Preservation should not be like Noah’s Ark – save only one pair of each kind of house. There is so much more to the Row, the history of the Yard itself, its role in US military history, the history of the city, of Brooklyn, and on and on. I always knew we wouldn’t end up with an intact Row, the handwriting was on the wall from the beginning. But I was hoping an innovative, creative, and feasible use of many of the buildings would have been created. Once again, this city has sacrificed its architectural heritage on the altar of hyper fiscal responsibility, a god that is only worshipped when the mood hits. It’s not like we, as a city, are fiscally responsible in many other uses of the land and resources we have. (see AY, among other things.) Other “lesser” cities are much better at thinking creatively about the reuse and repurposing of architectural and historic treasures.

  • I’m all in favor of an active industrial port. In the case of San francisco, the presidio was an active military base until very recently and beautifully maintained all along – as most things in San francisco seem to be.