Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Historic Kent Ave Power Plant:
Are Renovations Prelude to Demolition?

BMT Powerhouse

Name a massive historic industrial building on the Brooklyn waterfront and there's almost always a sordid tale of contentious development plans, a neighborhood preservation battle - or worse - to go along with it. Consider the landmarked-then-delandmarked Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse at 184 Kent Avenue; the historic Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse complex, which burned in a spectacular 10-alarm fire in 2006 before it could be preserved and converted to housing; and the development-melee du jour: the Domino Sugar plant, whose partially-landmarked status, and weekly-revised renderings from the developer have neighbors and preservationists spinning to keep up with the developers' plans – just to name a few.

One significant parcel that's received amazingly little public discourse during the past few years is the gorgeous old Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) Powerhouse at 500 Kent Avenue (at Division). Originally built for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, the Powerhouse was built in stages in 1905 and 1936, and supplied power to the BRT's streetcar and elevated lines; in 1950 it was sold to Con Ed, who used it as a regular power plant for nearly 50 years before retiring it in the late 1990s.

BMT Powerhouse Elevation

Between 1999 and 2002,
Con Ed attempted to sell the plant (pdf), along with 4 other parcels – including the nearby North 1st Street Oil Terminal. But in a remarkable string of circumstances chronicled here (pdf), all five properties became unsuitable for auction. In the case of 500 Kent, soon after the auction was approved, it was discovered that the city already had an outstanding agreement with various community groups to investigate the site as a potential location for subsidized housing. Shortly thereafter, the City came to its senses about the cost to remediate the asbestos-ridden property. Cushman and Wakefield, whom Con Ed had retained to sell the properties, had their own doubts:
C&W did advertise and market the site, but did not receive any serious expressions of interest in it. Based on the environmental analysis of the site, and Con Edison's estimate of the cost to remediate it, C&W advised Staff and the company that it was questionable whether the site would be considered attractive to anyone.
Fast-forward five years. In the past few months, Con Ed has been granted permits for a ground-to-rooftop scaffold and sidewalk shed along Kent Avenue, as well as this curiously-described renovation:
Application filed for interior demolition throughout building and to create openings in 1st floor exterior wall. Remove portion of 2nd floor slab of 6 story section of building. No change in use, egress or occupancy.
BMT Powerhouse 2

We visited the site last week,
and sure enough, there's several new gaping holes in the building's south wall, and crews appeared to be actively removing asbestos from the north end of the 1936 addition. We identifed ourselves to the security guard as a neighborhood blogger, and asked if Con Ed was demolishing the building. The guard happily answered "yes", and attempted to summon the contractor's foreman for a more official comment. The foreman, without leaving his trailer (to be fair, the crew was on their mid-morning coffee break), told her (and she reiterated to us) something to the effect of "That's not our job. Our job is to bring the place down."

In its September 2007 newsletter, the local chapter of the Society for Industrial Archaeology (SIA) published an article titled "Preservation Alert! Kent Avenue (BMT) Powerhouse" that began:
We have heard from a reliable source that asbestos abatement is beginning at the Kent Avenue Powerhouse in preparation for removal of equipment prior to demolition of the building for construction of luxury residential units.
The article (accompanied by a gorgeous photo of the plant taken shortly after it opened in 1905) goes on to detail the Powerhouse's fascinating history, and the group's concern over the disposition of "dynamos from Edison's historic Pearl Street Station [that are] stored here." (Pearl Street was the first central power plant in the US, located in lower Manhattan beginning in 1882). Several calls to the Society this week went unanswered, but the group's newsletters and tour schedule are outstanding if you're fascinated by New York's industrial history.

We spoke to SIA's source ourselves, who appears both reliable and very knowledgeable about the site. While asking to remain unnamed, the source was unflinching when asked if Con Ed is prepping the building for demolition: "Definitely they are." Although the time line is unclear, the giant holes in the south wall, and the unusual renovation work described in the building permit appear consistent with removal of historic machinery that would likely happen in advance of razing the structure.

BMT Powerhouse 1906
Mary Habstritt, Chair of SIA's Roebling Chapter Preservation Committee, and author of the newsletter article on the Powerhouse, sent a Request for Evaluation for the property to the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission, asking that 500 Kent Avenue be considered for landmarking. A veteran of several landmarking struggles including the ongoing Domino Sugar proposal, Habstritt expected the standard "we'll take it under consideration" form letter from Landmarks. Instead, she was surprised with a personal letter from the Commission that states:
...a senior staff committee of the Landmarks Preservation Committee has reviewed the property for consideration as a potential landmark. At this time, the property will not be recommended to the full Commission for further consideration...

The decision not to recommend further consideration is based on our current priorities. This decision could be reconsidered at a later date should additional information become available.
This despite the building's undeniable grandeur; its design by Thomas Edward Murray (second only to Edison in the number of patents granted to an individual); and the Powerhouse's role as the site of a historic 1937 sit-down strike that was a key moment in the Transport Workers Union's struggle to represent the City's mass transit employees. Not to mention the fact that the National Trust currently has "Brooklyn's Industrial Waterfront" listed first in its widely-publicized 11 Most Endangered Places list.

BMT Powerhouse 4

You don't have to look far to find precedent for both the destruction of historic power plants, as well as (arguably) preservation and rebirth. Just up the East River on Manhattan's East Side, another of Murray's creations - the spectacular Beaux Arts Waterside Number 2 plant just south of the UN was demolished in 2006 to make way for a still-in-discussion high-rise residential project.

And across Newtown Creek, in Long Island City, another 1905 powerhouse - the original Long Island Railroad generating station - was recently converted to luxury condominiums in an extreme renovation that some consider destructive, and others might hail as adaptive reuse at its finest.

Meanwhile, what's Con Ed saying about the Powerhouse? We spoke to the utility's Media Relations Department late last week, and they insist this is all just "spring cleaning," adding, "We're not in the business of developing condos, and we never will be".

When pressed
on why there's suddenly so much activity at the long-dormant plant, Con Ed's Chris Olert replied, "When do you do your spring cleaning? Don't go spinning this into exotica...we're just cleaning up."

Electric Power Plants, by Thomas Edward Murray
[Google Book Search]

Society for Industrial Archaeology, Roebling Chapter

BMT Powerhouse Today [Flickr Photoset]


At 5:42 PM, Blogger HeartsGlassTowers said...

I live near this monstrosity and don't find anything beautiful about it. It's a dreary industrial eyesore in my opinion, and it's a waste of great waterfront property. Converting it would just make it uglier like that god-awful disaster of a conversion in Long Island City. Knock it down, build something useful people can live in.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Richard Nickel, Jr. said...


The LPC's absolute refusal to consider this building for Landmark status is disturbing; it seems almost as if there is a conspiracy to take down the Brooklyn waterfront, piece by piece, until there is nothing left.

This combination of myopia and greed is going to go unnoticed for about two decades, and then historians are going to be comparing the destruction of the Waterfront like they now view the destruction of, e.g., Chicago's Garrick Theatre, or Manhattan's Penn Station.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Nathan Kensinger said...

Thanks for your article on the powerhouse. Great research, particularly in highlighting the book "Electrical Power Plants."

I just posted some photographs from the interior of the building at my blog... heres a link:

They have currently destroyed the southern 1/3 of the building, and the rest will soon be gone.

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

徵信, 徵信社, 感情挽回, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 感情挽回, 外遇沖開, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 女人徵信, 外遇, 外遇, 外遇, 外遇

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信網, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信,

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

搬家搬家搬家公司 搬家搬家Shade sailnike shoesMBA在职研究生 在职博士徵信社 徵信室內設計室內設計代償房屋貸款信用貸款外遇離婚抓姦外遇蒐證外遇抓姦侵權仿冒應收帳款工商徵信徵信 徵信社外遇徵信徵信社外遇电动隔膜泵自吸泵化工泵离心泵磁力泵螺杆泵水泵隔膜泵气动隔膜泵百家乐 轮盘 21点 德州扑克 百家乐系统 真人娱乐场 百家乐足球德州扑克 电子游戏 英格兰超级联赛 德国甲组联赛 意大利甲组联赛西班牙甲组联赛法国甲组联赛欧冠杯 英超 足球比分 足球彩票 体育彩票 即时比分 免費a片 a片 免費av 色情影片 情色 情色網 色情網站 色情 成人網成人圖片成人影片 18成人 av av女優 avav女優 情慾 走光 做愛 sex H漫 情色 情趣用品 情色 a片 a片 成人網站 成人影片 情趣用品 情趣用品アダルトアダルト アダルトサイト アダルトサイト 情趣用品搬家搬家服務搬家保障搬家網搬家估價徵信徵信的意義徵信服務徵信報導徵信問答徵信知識婚禮佈置 婚禮佈置

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 10:41 PM, Blogger ClothingJeans said...

We provide flare True Religion Jeans of very low Price. And also Wholesale Evisu JeansYou can choose the cheap True Religion Jeans from our online shop.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger combattery84 said...

SONY NP-FM70 Battery
SONY NP-33 Battery
SONY NP-F970 Battery
SONY NP-FP90 Battery
FUJITSU Lifebook C2220 battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp63 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp68 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp77 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp78 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp79 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp95 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp98 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp121 Battery
FUJITSU Fpcbp151 Battery
FUJITSU lifebook t4010 Battery
FUJITSU lifebook t4020d Battery
GATEWAY NX7000 battery
UNIWILL 258-4S4400-S1P1 Battery
TOSHIBA PA3307U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3383U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3384U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3465U-1BRS Battery
Toshiba PA2487UR battery
Toshiba A100 Battery
Toshiba Satellite A105 battery
Toshiba A70 battery
PA3062U-1BAT battery
Toshiba Satellite P30 battery

At 11:24 PM, Blogger combattery84 said...

FUJITSU Fpcbp151 Battery
FUJITSU lifebook t4010 Battery
FUJITSU lifebook t4020d Battery
GATEWAY NX7000 battery
UNIWILL 258-4S4400-S1P1 Battery
TOSHIBA PA3307U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3383U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3384U-1BRS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3465U-1BRS Battery
Toshiba PA2487UR battery
Toshiba A100 Battery
Toshiba Satellite A105 battery
Toshiba A70 battery
PA3062U-1BAT battery
Toshiba Satellite P30 battery
Toshiba PA3084U-1BRS battery
Toshiba PA3098U battery
PA3107U-1BAS battery
PA3107U-1BRS battery
PA3166U-1BRS battery
PA3176U-1BAS battery
Toshiba pa3399u-1brs battery
TOSHIBA PA3399U-2BAS Battery
TOSHIBA PA3421U-1BRS Battery

At 12:21 AM, Blogger leqis said...

Escorts in Manchester directory have beautiful list of independent and agency escorts from different location Leeds escorts, Liverpool escorts, Wigan escorts, Bolton escorts, Preston escorts, Warrington escorts and much more.

At 1:45 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Welcome to our XXX VIDEO agency where we unveil our Secret Babes. We are an Hentai tube x agency who cares very much about our reputation and do everything to maintain our standards to the very highest level. After many years in the business we like to think we know what we are doing and have got everything right and co-ordinated. We are now much more of a regional escort agency covering the North West of England and have amassed a collection of beautiful and dedicated professional companions who love what they do. We have learnt over the years that the best Porn video are the young ladies that enjoy what they do and treat it more as a vocation or hobby.

As we are such a high profile and reputable sex toys shiop in Manchester we receive an inordinate amount of applications from prospective escorts from throughout the region. However, we can afford to be very selective and go for those ladies with outgoing personalities and social skills as well as good looks. Beauty is however in the eye of the beholder, so consequently we aim for a good balance of physical attributes. Above all we are looking for ladies where XXX VIDEO a true extension of their normal lifestyle and are comfortable chatting to and mixing with a variety of other people.

At 1:22 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Warm welcome to our XXX VIDEO agency, We have a reputation for excellence in offering HD porn videos, Enjoy xxX videos and porn movies.
XXX VIDEO agency
XXX videos
Porn movies
HD Sex movies
Sex toys shop
XXX VIDEO agency
Free HD Sex movies
XXX videos
SEX videos
All of our porn movies models are truly breathtaking and our stringent selection criteria will only allow the finest girls to represent our Sex toys shop.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Joe Paol said...

Hi Guys, I am Ava Paul. Most welcome to our SugarBabes. High quality XXX porn movies, Unlimited HD quality Xxx Videos, fresh porn videos, XXX SEX videos available at the very popular adult agency. Watch now!

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Redleaf interior said...

Interior Designers in Patna for your Home and Commercial Project. Hire interior designer in patna for your Home and Commercial Project.
interior designer in patna

At 4:47 AM, Blogger Best Architect In Patna said...

Hello, your blog is really good, I like it very much!By the way, if you like nike shoes you can come here to have a look!
top 10 architect in patna

At 5:52 AM, Blogger Interior Design said...

Il nostro studio di architettura nel cuore di Torino è un luogo di ispirazione, dove arte, storia e innovazione si fondono per creare ambienti unici.
Con un team di professionisti talentuosi, siamo pronti ad affrontare sfide architettoniche di ogni tipo, dalla progettazione di spazi residenziali alla ristrutturazione di edifici storici.
Torino stessa è una città che offre un patrimonio architettonico straordinario, che spazia dal Rinascimento al barocco, fino all'architettura moderna.
Questo connubio tra passato e presente rende Torino una fonte infinita di ispirazione per i nostri progetti.
Se desiderate trasformare i vostri sogni architettonici in realtà, non esitate a contattarci, clicca qui per maggiori informazioni sullo Studio di Architettura a Torino. Saremo lieti di ascoltarvi, capire le vostre esigenze e lavorare insieme
per creare spazi unici che rispecchino la vostra personalità e le vostre aspirazioni.
Il nostro studio di architettura a Torino è pronto ad accompagnarvi in un viaggio di scoperta e creazione, per realizzare progetti architettonici che lasceranno un'impronta indelebile nella città.

At 5:28 AM, Blogger Srijan designs said...

Experience luxury and creativity with Srijan, the top interior designer in Patna. Explore our exquisite designs and redefine your space
top Interior designer in Patna


Post a Comment

<< Home