Days after razing a 1880s Red Hook factory, UPS now intends "to find a way to preserve the historic nature of the building and meaningfully honor it in memoriam," according to a statement issued on Monday morning. [See update below]
Preservationists in Red Hook last week lost a desperate battle to save the iconic Lidgerwood Building, which sits along the area's historic waterfront, following an unexpected demolition one day before the start of the Memorial Day weekend.
On Friday, shipping giant UPS began demolishing the building between Coffey and Ferris Street across from Valentino Pier, over the protests of residents who sought to landmark the property and convince the company to preserve and repurpose parts of it. The controversial razing, which occurred on a day when many New Yorkers were preparing to leave town for the holiday weekend, took community members by surprise and sparked an uproar on social media. Just hours before a spokesman said the company would consider a request to preserve its façade, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. Nearly 1,800 people had signed an online petition to save the building from demolition.
Brooklyn preservationists: Red Hook’s historic Lidgerwood Building is being demolished by @UPS on Memorial Day weekend.@BklynEagle @NYCDailyPics @NYCCouncil38 @HDC_NYC @nyclandmarks @nycfeelings pic.twitter.com/g53FAdhPR9
— Lore Croghan (@EyeBrooklyn) May 24, 2019
Originally used to make large-scale equipment including hoists and boilers, the property was viewed as an important historic remnant of the neighborhood’s working waterfront past. Over the years, the Lidgerwood factory and the area around it had been used in movie and television shoots, including the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”
“The quest to save the Lidgerwood Building really is bigger than Brooklyn,” Carolina Salguero, the founder and president of PortSide NewYork, a Red Hook-based nonprofit that seeks to promote maritime education and activities, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Red Hook was significant for 100 years for its maritime and industrial production and innovation. The Lidgerwood Building is a symbol of that.”
Down in Red Hook, saying goodbye to another irreplaceable piece of Brooklyn's historic industrial waterfront. The Lidgerwood Manufacturing warehouses, built in the 1880s, are now being demolished, to make way for a UPS facility. pic.twitter.com/vtZR6eOt4P
— Nathan Kensinger (@KensingerNathan) May 26, 2019
— anne o'neil (@anneeoanneo) May 24, 2019
Red Hook’s Lidgerwood Building is being demolished by @UPS on a holiday weekend. Clearly you don’t care that business owners will find somebody else to do their package delivery.@NYCDailyPics @NYCCouncil38 @nyclandmarks @HDC_NYC @BklynEagle @NYCDailyPics @nycfeelings pic.twitter.com/O4hHEBCEft
— Lore Croghan (@EyeBrooklyn) May 24, 2019
UPS bought the 87,000 square foot Lidgerwood Building at 202 Coffey Street in January 2018 for $37.25 million, according to city property records. Then in December, the company snapped up six neighboring parcels for $303 million from New Jersey-based industrial landlord Sitex Group. The six parcel site offers 1.2 buildable square feet.
Prior to UPS, the entire industrial site was controlled by Estate Four, an Italian developer, which sought to build a $400 million mixed-use project known as the Red Hook Innovation District. The plan, which called for a mix of offices, shops and performance space, would have given the warehouse-laden neighborhood, whose retail is anchored by Fairway and Ikea, an upscale makeover.
Now, the redevelopment by UPS will likely solidify Red Hook as a manufacturing hub. The move comes amid a growing demand for warehouse and shipping space fueled by the rise of e-commerce.
UPS obtained a permit for full demolition on Thursday, according to records from the Department of Buildings. On Friday morning, a staff member from Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s office emailed residents informing them that UPS had called that morning to inform them about the permit and demolition.
Gothamist has reached out to UPS for a comment and will update this story once it hears back.
UPDATE 5/28/19: A UPS spokesperson emailed Gothamist the following statement:
UPS contracted with a third party asbestos expert as well as a structural engineering firm and both have provided analysis of the Lidgerwood building upon which UPS’ plans for the property are based. With those plans, UPS submitted for and received demolition permits that the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Buildings have approved. Regarding the site conditions, we were able to complete a small portion of the required interior asbestos abatement; however, significant asbestos remains on the roof and exterior materials. Separately, structural analysis has shown the building to be unstable and unsafe. This condition will become even more unsafe as the needed additional asbestos removal is undertaken. The engineering assessment has further confirmed the old building cannot be safely incorporated into or support the planned new facility. Being sensitive to the concerns of neighborhood groups, UPS is taking all input into consideration. We therefore intend to find a way to preserve the historic nature of the building and meaningfully honor it in memoriam, in a visible and authentic manner. In the coming weeks, we will continue to meet with the Councilman’s office and community members to involve them directly in the project. We look forward to working within the community, and to creating new jobs and long-term prosperity in the community.