The Bethlehem Steel Administration building is going to be standing for at least another 90 days in an attempt to determine if the historic structure can be saved and rehabilitated. Preservationists and community activists have been hard at work convincing the owners and the City of Lackawanna to reconsider the demolition in favor of rehabilitation. Yesterday, Judge Kenneth F. Case granted a stay of demolition to owners, Gateway Trade Center.
Local activist and blogger, David Torke, has been instrumental in the discussions to save the building and consider reuse. Torke was the person who first spotted the demolition equipment on site several months ago. Working through his various networks he was able to assemble a team to spread the word and protest the city's decision to force the demolition of the structure.
Danielle Huber, chairperson of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG), is ecstatic about the stay of demolition and recognizes the need for a strategic plan. "Within the next 90 days it would be ideal to stabilize the components of the building that meet the historic criteria and button it up properly for the winter months," said Huber, "As well as developing a thorough reuse plan and allocate grant monies being offered."
The LIHG is a group of concerned citizens who urge leaders to act now for the implementation of historic preservation ordinances. They will be working with Lackawanna officials to make the city a Certified Local Government.
Owners were originally planning to use grant money from New York State to offset the costs of the expensive demolition. However, the money was intended for rehabilitation and the funds could not be used for demolition. Once Elizabeth Martin of the State Historic Preservation Office walked through the building, it was determined the building was definitely eligible for National Register listing and needs to have the structure evaluated to see if it is sound.
The conversation around the building has taken a complete turn from a definite demolition to evaluating rehabbing the structure. Historic tax credits may bring the project online as discussions continue between the owners, Torke, the City of Lackawanna, and preservation consultant, Jason Yots.
If you'd like to see some fantastic photos of the building, historic and current, check out this link to the Administration Building Facebook photography page.
Entry Image courtesy of the Steel Plant Museum via David Torke of fixBuffalo.