You know all those Amazon packages you get shipped? They can affect 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 (re: 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 it’s leading to a lot of local demolition.
UPS wants to tear down the former 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.
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. Our hope is to protect the part facing Valentino Park and maybe Ferris Street.
UPDATE 6/4/19 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 collected 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.
You can help us in the following ways:
Sign the Change.org petition to protect the Lidgerwood Building and preserve Red Hook’s industrial character
Email UPS directly, specifically CEO David Abney.
Share this story on social media using hashtags #Lidgerwood #RedHook #Brooklyn and tagging @UPS.
So far, UPS has not agreed to a meeting to discuss the neighborhood’s concerns. Instead, it has 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.
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 has ramped up, too.
The building is a beloved feature of Red Hook’s waterfront Valentino Park, home to many community events.
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.