Latest preservation battle to save former Bethlehem Steel administration building

Jun 5, 2012

Another preservation battle continues along the Lake Erie waterfront.   The debate over the decaying former Bethlehem Steel administration office building features some familiar arguments.

On the outside, windows are often boarded-up or broken. The roof may or may not be falling apart and the ornamental trees out front are almost out of control. 

But some wonder, is the building shot?

A rally to save the it was held Monday night. Supporters of the century-old structure say friends have been inside and claim it is not in bad shape for a building abandoned three decades ago when the plant abruptly closed.

Lackawanna has no historic preservation law as does Buffalo, literally just a few feet from the building. Regardless, Lackawanna Council President Hank Pirowski said it's not relevant to the fight over saving the building. 

"In a perfect world, I would love to save the building. However, it's not a perfect world.  The building has been an eyesore for 30 years, as long as I have been alive," said Pirowski.   "The building is beautiful. I've walked by there many times as a kid and being in awe of how beautiful it is. However, it's private property.  It's in disrepair.  It would cost $2 million at last estimate just to clear the building of asbestos."

Building supporters want an engineering study of the structure's condition and say there are many possible uses if salvage is possible.