Protect Lidgerwood, Protect Red Hook History [Developing Story]

Lidgerwood building on 4/20/19 shortly before demolition started.

Lidgerwood building on 4/20/19 shortly before demolition started.

Resources: Resilient Red Hook has created this Google spreadsheet to collect ideas, and PortSide created this DropBox folder where you can put photos of Lidgerwood past and present, see examples of repurposing other 19th century warehouses, and where the media can access photos and video to publish and more. You can submit ideas directly to UPS at RedHookCommunity@ups.com.

Summary

You know all those Amazon packages you get shipped? They are affecting historic preservation in Red Hook.  UPS bought the historic, beloved and massive Lidgerwood Building on Coffey Street to construct an e-commerce, “last mile” warehouse (the place your packages get picked up from by the truck that delivers to your home). This is but one of four last mile warehouses being planned for Red Hook, and the development of these e-commerce warehouses is causing demolition of several historic buildings - and concerns about truck traffic and a desire to ensure local training and hiring at all these places.

UPS’s original plans were to flatten the entire Lidgerwood foundry building with ties to Red Hook’s proud maritime industrial past. At PortSide, we think the needs of the future can be accommodated without obliterating all of the past, and we joined the campaign to save the south wall facing Valentino park.

Our elected officials Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez reached out months ago to ask UPS to discuss plans; and in April, community members started a petition to ask UPS to at least save Lidgerwood’s façade. Though part of this facade was destroyed, as of a 7/9/19 meeting, UPS has proposed an alternate plan to save part of that facade, rebuild what they tore down, and rebuild a section of it that they say is too deteriorated to be safe. See rendering below. Note that the UPS board needs to approve this plan; it is not final yet.

UPS Proposed Red Hook Project Lidgerwood Wall Design_v1_07092019.jpg

Waterborne freight option

UPS says they are considering waterborne delivery of their incoming freight. We support! PortSide has been advocating for moving freight locally by water (aka short sea shipping) since we were founded in 2005. See 2006 PortSide testimony for how we predicted that less manufacturing would lead to more shipping of goods and need for warehousing, one of the reasons we proposed that waterside Big Box stores that replaced maritime facilities receive their freight by water. A former crew member of our ship MARY A. WHALEN Bob Kunkel has designed and built small freight ferries to handle such work and he is talking to UPS. We are asking him to come speak at PortSide.

Our related truck route proposals:

Easy fix is to have trucks drive through Atlantic Basin inbound and outbound. If the freight arrives at Red Hook Container Terminal, there would be no need to go out onto Van Brunt at all. If not, arriving trucks would do one block of Van Brunt in Red Hook and turn right on Bowne into Atlantic Basin. Outbound trucks could cross Van Brunt on Bowne and head straight to Hamilton Avenue and BQE. Bear in mind that UPS has NO interest in getting tangled up in Red Hook streets because delays cost them money and lose them customers. As their drivers will be regulars, the chance of lost truck drivers trying to make challenging turns is low.

Longer term, but harder to to, is to ask that the trucks not use Ferris Street at all and go through the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. That is secured under Homeland Security/MARSEC regulations when no cruise ship is in, and the gates are closed. You need a TWIC card to move freely inside or need to be escorted to the building. Running trucks through there would need a change of a "Facility Security Plan" that is submitted to the Coast Guard and needs their approval. It is worth trying, but it is not "the easy fix" that we were suggesting with the Ferris Street route.

Recent History leading up to the 7/9/19 meeting

On Friday before Memorial Day weekend, demolition started. Fast action by PortSide, many neighbors, our elected officials and the agencies they contact on Friday prompted work to be stopped over the long weekend. Outreach by Councilman Menchaca and Congresswoman Velazquez ramped up, too.

During the start of the demolition, UPS did not agree to a meeting to discuss the neighborhood’s concerns. Instead, it claimed “significant asbestos contamination” and “structural instability and significant compromise of the roof” as reasons for demolition, according to a May 24 letter to Community Board 6. UPS’s approach to abating the asbestos was to take down the entire building. We liken this to the Vietnam-era line “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.” You abate, then demolish. You don't demolish to abate.

Pressure from Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, the community and a rash of media stories, prompted UPS to agree to stop demolishing the south wall that we were all trying to preserve. They said they would conduct an engineering study to assess the feasibility of saving that wall, and that they needed to do such a study since saving the wall was not part of their original plan. Simultaneously, UPS agreed to have a public meeting to discuss that study and hear from the community and created the email address mentioned above to collect community input.

The community now wants to engage with UPS on many topics besides saving the south facade. Some of those topics are: local training and hiring, plan a truck route that minimizes local disruption, use waterborne method to deliver the freight and minimize trucking, use a green truck fleet, build renewable energy sources (solar, wind, tidal power) into the site, minimize lighting on the Coffey Street side so that the Red Hook Flicks summer movies in the park can be seen, and more.

Full disclosure: on 7/2/19 PortSide submitted a proposal to be located at the UPS site. The red tape at our current location has stunted our growth for years, and there is no clear resolution to our business plan at this time.

UPDATES

Public meeting occured on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 6:00 PM at Hamilton, 120 Hamilton Avenue, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. See the Facebook live video of it at https://www.facebook.com/Menchaca.Carlos.Jr/videos/10101276254283052/

7/3/19 from Velázquez and Menchaca press release:

Velázquez and Menchaca Host Red Hook Community Meeting with UPS Regarding Lidgerwood Building (the one above)

On Tuesday, July 9, UPS will engage the Red Hook community members and leaders to address concerns regarding their project at 202 Coffey Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, and share new plans for the South Façade.

Last month, UPS created a dedicated email - RedHookCommunity@ups.com - to solicit community input for ideas that might help with the new engineering analysis and design. UPS is coming to the community with additional information to share on the engineering analysis and discuss options.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez and Councilman Carlos Menchaca issued the following statement (June 6) regarding the Lidgerwood Building in Red Hook: “We are pleased that after significant discussion with us, UPS's chief engineer ordered a new engineering analysis, informed by community desires to preserve a portion of the south façade of the Lidgerwood building. While the analysis is taking place, UPS has said no additional demolition of the Coffey Street façade side will take place, though demolition will continue on other parts of the site.” We are pleased UPS is coming to the community to discuss its plans for the site.

For more information contact: Dan Wiley (Velázquez) 718-599-3658 Renae Widdison (Menchaca) 212-788-7372

7/3/19 update from PortSide
We recently learned from Councilman Carlos Menchaca that the NYC EDC has rejected our business plan for building space at Pier 11 next to our ship. We will push back on that but feel the urgent need to pursue other options. At around 10pm on 7/2, having just learned that UPS would be meeting with Red Hook right after the 4th of July weekend on 7/9, we submitted a proposal to UPS that they offer us a home on their property. We attached this summary of our programs with PS 676 that is referenced in that proposal.

See prior updates at the bottom of this blogpost.

How you can help

  1. Come to the public meeting Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 6:00 PM at Hamilton, 120 Hamilton Avenue, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

  2. Sign the Change.org petition to protect the Lidgerwood Building and preserve Red Hook’s industrial character

  3. Email UPS directly, specifically CEO David Abney.

  4. Share this story on social media using hashtags #Lidgerwood #RedHook #Brooklyn and tagging @UPS.



Lidgerwood as the backdrop to Red Hook Flicks movies that occur on Tuesdays throughout the summer

Lidgerwood as the backdrop to Red Hook Flicks movies that occur on Tuesdays throughout the summer

Media articles

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/07/10/ups-pledges-to-rebuild-lidgerwood-buildings-iconic-facade/

https://patch.com/new-york/gowanus/red-hook-still-skeptical-ups-plan-historic-waterfront-site

UPS Pauses Demolition Of Historic Red Hook Building After Outcry Patch Gowanus-Red Hook 6/6/19

http://gothamist.com/2019/06/06/ups_red_hook_demolition.php

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/06/06/demolition-of-historic-red-hook-warehouse-put-on-hold/

https://patch.com/new-york/gowanus/ups-continues-historic-red-hook-building-tear-down-despite-pleas

https://www.brownstoner.com/development/lidgerwood-ups-demolition-historic-red-hook-warehouse-202-coffey-street-brooklyn/

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/05/29/floating-museums-and-19th-century-storehouses-the-red-hook-i-cherish/

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/05/28/red-hook-merchants-blast-upss-sudden-demolition-of-historic-factory/

https://bklyner.com/ups-demolishes-red-hook-building-despite-community-protests/

http://gothamist.com/2019/05/27/ups_takes_red_hook_preservationists.php#photo-1

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/05/24/lidgerwood-building-red-hook/

https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/05/23/red-hook-activists-fight-to-save-historic-factory-from-ups-demolition/

https://patch.com/new-york/gowanus/locals-try-stop-ups-tear-down-historic-red-hook-building

6/4/19 update: the meeting with UPS proposed for Friday 6/7/19 has been proposed for good reasons. More info in this tweet from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. UPS has provided a dedicated email address to get community input (RedHookCommunity@UPS.com) and we ask you all to share your ideas with the community at the same time so know what UPS is hearing and so we can plan as a group. Resilient Red Hook has created this Google spreadsheet to collect ideas, and PortSide has created this DropBox folder where you can put photos of Lidgerwood past and present, see examples of repurposing other 19th century warehouses, and where the media can access photos and video to publish and more. See older updates below.

Update 6/3/19 8:41pm. SAVE THE DATE of Fri 6/7/19, 7pm. From the office of Nydia Velazquez “The Congresswoman did a call with Juan Perez, Chief Information and Engineering Officer (who is in the top 10 of UPS management) this evening.  Juan Perez is committed to do a meeting with the community this week. Renae Widdison of Carlos Menchaca’s office joined in the call with him and Laura to further discuss the goals and logistics of a Red Hook Community meeting we set up this week. Save this Friday, June 7th around 7pm  as we’re looking to firm it up (time and place).  This looks to be the best option this week -- and all agreed the sooner the better – since Wednesday would be short notice and UPS already has commitments on Thursday. Renae, is confirming Friday on the Councilman’s end and we the Congresswoman’s, but it seems important to get done this week regardless.”

Update 5/31/19 at 12:30pm Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Councilman Carlos Menchaca put out this press release. Key points: Yesterday afternoon, Nydia spoke with the UPS President of Global Public Affairs Laura Lane who says UPS had stopped demolition on the south facade parallel to Valentino and is no longer doing any more demolition to that part of the building complex. They have agreed to meet with the community. Join a lively community discussion on Facebook in this group.

Red Hook Lidgerwood Billhead from Biggert.jpg
The inland SE corner of Lidgerwood at coffey and ferris before ups started demolition. below, this corner was demolished despite community requests to save this long southern facade. Lidgerwood is a huge complex of multiple buildings connected together that cover an entire city block. the community ask is a modest one, please saver one facade, the one facing our valentino park and a suite of other warehouses of similar vintage.

The inland SE corner of Lidgerwood at coffey and ferris before ups started demolition. below, this corner was demolished despite community requests to save this long southern facade. Lidgerwood is a huge complex of multiple buildings connected together that cover an entire city block. the community ask is a modest one, please saver one facade, the one facing our valentino park and a suite of other warehouses of similar vintage.

lidgerwood demolition by ray hall. This is the SE corner of Coffey and Ferris Street, the lower left corner ofthe building in the 1897 billhead above.

lidgerwood demolition by ray hall. This is the SE corner of Coffey and Ferris Street, the lower left corner ofthe building in the 1897 billhead above.