Red Hook

UPS pledges to rebuild Lidgerwood Building’s iconic façade

July 10, 2019 Lore Croghan
UPS plans to rebuild the south facade of the Lidgerwood Building in Red Hook. Rendering courtesy of UPS

In a dramatic about-face, UPS has decided to rebuild the section of the Lidgerwood Building’s iconic south façade that it tore down in May and restore or replicate the rest of that side of the historic foundry.

The south façade of the red-painted 1880s brick building at 202 Coffey St. is beloved to Red Hook residents because it faces Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier. It’s part of a semi-circle of 19th-century industrial properties that surrounds the waterfront recreation area and gives it a distinctive sense of time and place.

UPS executive Laura Lane addresses Red Hook residents’ concerns about the company’s plan to construct a distribution center on a dead-end street. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
UPS executive Laura Lane addresses Red Hook residents’ concerns about the company’s plan to construct a distribution center on a dead-end street. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

At a tense community meeting on Tuesday night, UPS President of Global Public Affairs Laura Lane showed neighborhood residents a conceptual rendering of the south façade depicting the restored Lidgerwood Building topped by additional glass-clad space.

“Our objective in coming into this community is not only to bring jobs and opportunity, but to really honor the spirit of this community,” she said.

The building will be 60 feet tall. The section on the corner of Coffey and Ferris streets, which was demolished, will be rebuilt, and the center section of the south façade, which has a gable roof, will be preserved.

The section of the façade closest to the shoreline will be taken down and reconstructed with “brick that is free of contamination, free of asbestos, doesn’t have water damage and has structural integrity,” Lane said.

She told the crowd the design is based on feedback she has received through an email address set up for Red Hook residents to communicate with UPS about the 202 Coffey St. construction project.

‘Things got a little rocky’

A community resident speaks out at the UPS meeting. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
A community resident speaks out at the UPS meeting. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

The Lidgerwood Building façade will be part of a distribution center UPS plans to construct on a cluster of properties the company purchased for $340 million last year, city Finance Department records indicate.

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Because of the plan to rebuild the Lidgerwood Building, the development project will cost more than originally projected, Lane said. It will take time to get the approval of UPS’s board of directors for the additional spending.

Lane and another UPS executive at the meeting thought demolition will probably take until the end of the year, and the new distribution center’s construction will take at least three years.

Lane called a halt to the south façade’s demolition in late May after a conversation with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez.

UPS stunned Red Hook activists by starting demolition on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend — without responding to their pleas for a chance to make their case for preserving the Lidgerwood Building’s south façade.

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca speaks at the community meeting with UPS. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca speaks at the community meeting with UPS. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

“Things got a little rocky, of course, when we saw the walls come down,” said City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who hosted Tuesday night’s community meeting, as he introduced Lane to the audience.

‘Watch what we do’

During the meeting’s question-and-answer period, one resident said it seemed like the rendering of the Lidgerwood Building was drawn up to “appease” the community — without any ironclad commitment to actually carrying out the plan.

Another resident said he was hearing a lot of “good intentions” from UPS but hoped that the next time there’s a get-together, the company will make commitments about issues people are concerned about.

Lane responded, “All I can say to you is watch what we do — and we will follow through.”

A member of the crowd asks UPS executive Laura Lane about priority hiring for Red Hook’s public housing residents. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
A member of the crowd asks UPS executive Laura Lane about priority hiring for Red Hook’s public housing residents. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Residents are seriously worried about several aspects of UPS’ Coffey Street development project.

They’re upset about the prospect of truck traffic clogging residential streets.

Lane said UPS will look into using city waterways to transport goods and cut down on its use of trucks. The company has experience with this. In London, UPS deployed barges to deliver equipment to the Olympics.

She also said lots of UPS’ operations take place at night, which should cut down on daytime truck traffic.

This is what the Lidgerwood Building looked like before UPS demolished part of it. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
This is what the Lidgerwood Building looked like before UPS demolished part of it. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

One resident recommended that to lessen air pollution, every vehicle coming in and out of UPS’ Red Hook facility should be electric-powered.

Another attendee raised the question of hiring priorities, wanting to know whether jobs would go to Red Hook’s NYCHA residents. Axel Carrion, a UPS executive who attended the meeting with Lane, said that UPS reps have already had meetings at those NYCHA complexes to gear up for the hiring process, which will start before construction of the new facility is completed.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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