From the NY Times:
FOR three years, some of the most powerful forces in New York real estate — including the federal and city governments, developers, preservationists and community advocates — have fought over the fate of a cluster of historically significant turn-of-the-last-century houses known as Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Last month, the parties finally arrived at a compromise that seemed to strike a balance between preservation and development, in a $60 million project that would add a large supermarket to an underserved neighborhood, while also salvaging some buildings of deep architectural and cultural significance.
And now the delicate compromise, having been reached, is under threat. The federal government agreed to sell the city the land to develop as long as it met certain conditions. Because the timber shed and the homes on the site are eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the government required that the shed and one of the homes be restored and useable. Last month, after protracted debate, negotiators accepted a proposal from PA Developers of Manhattan to build a supermarket — serving the 15,000 residents who live in three public housing projects bordering the yards — along with new retail stores and an additional 125,000 square feet of industrial space.
But after the bid was accepted, Kristin Leahy, the cultural resources manager for the National Guard Bureau, the federal agency that controls the site, said engineers had found that the historic structures, particularly the timber shed, might be beyond repair. “We hired these engineers with tools to stabilize the buildings,” she said, “and that is when they came back and said we had a problem.”
One proposal at a subsequent meeting last month was to deconstruct the building and then incorporate the salvaged pieces into a new structure. But Mr. Herrera of the Landmarks Conservancy said that deconstruction was another word for demolition.
“What I don’t like is this attitude of ‘We can’t save it,’ without even really trying,” he said. “What we are really disappointed in is that during this whole process, nothing has been done to protect the buildings.”
Ms. Leahy said she could not explain why federal authorities had let the property basically decay for decades, except to cite confusion over issues of ownership and control.