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5 Responses to “The Lackawanna Blues: How Smaller Cities are Destroying their Future by Demolishing the Past”

  1. david says:

    There are so many really amazing industrial preservation success stories – thanks for linking to these.

    If you’re interested in following the story of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building and our efforts to save it from the wrecking ball – please join our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/446390728721646/

  2. @David, Thank YOU for the great ongoing coverage of the Bethlehem Steel building and others at FixBuffalo. Here in Rochester we’re watching and pulling for you guys.

    We should be looking for more ways to collaborate in the future. As more of these great old buildings become demolition targets, our efforts could benefit from a wider marketing reach across Rochester, Buffalo (and Syracuse). Let’s commit to lean on each other more.

  3. Joel says:

    I’m sympathetic to the desire to preserve gorgeous architecture, but given the state of the economy (in general) and Rochester (in particular) it’s not surprising to see initiatives to preserve such spaces falling by the wayside.

    Nor is it clear that a blanket effort should be made to save all such structures. Bringing a building up to code is a non-trivial process. Buildings that *look* like they need serious cleaning and a few coats of paint could have significant structural deficiencies or use now-prohibited materials that would have to be stripped out. When the cost of rehabilitation begins to approach a sizeable percentage of the cost of a new building, it’s time to ask whether or not it makes any sense to keep a relic.

  4. @Joel, valid arguments. But I would add, what will be replacing the building is of significant importance to consider.

    For example, in the case of the Cataract Brewhouse in Rochester, the replacement will be a parking lot. The cost to mothball the building and fix up the exterior would have been slightly more than the cost of abatement and demolition. And it should be noted that economic development scenarios were created (using the National Trust Preservation Economic Investment Modeling, PEIM software) which showed that there could be significant return on investment in jobs, income and tax revenue. Once that building is demolished and paved over, its future potential value is lost forever. That should be a difficult pill for any upstate city to swallow and should not be taken lightly.

    I think sometimes it’s just easier for us to say, “bring it down.” But I suspect if we take a serious look at ALL the potential benefits—not just the hard upfront costs, but the long term cost/benefits—reuse makes sense for each of the three cases mentioned in this article.

  5. Malcolm says:

    All structures in question — in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo — are structurally sound. In the case of the Cataract Brewery buildings, the holding company’s own engineering reports said so. Regarding “now-prohibited materials”: companies are required to remove them before demolition anyway. If the cost of rehab is any “percentage” of a “new building,” my money, along with the state and federal incentives, is in the older building. And none of this discussion takes into account the huge amounts of landfill diversion as a result of rehabilitation/restoration/et cetera OR the embodied energy of saving resources that we will never again see new during our lifetime.


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