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A '13th hour effort' to save the Bethlehem Steel building

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Buffalo: A '13th hour effort' to save the Bethlehem Steel building
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Although the demolition process is underway for the Bethlehem Steel administration building, local preservationists say it's still not too late to save it. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti reports they were back in court Wednesday and say they have a plan for giving the building new life.

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — A 13th hour effort to save the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building is how the attorney representing the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group describes what brought them back to City Court on Wednesday.

The group filed a lawsuit Friday against the building's owners, Gateway Trade Center. They're asking the judge to vacate his previous order requiring the building be demolished.

"The decision of the city, originally, to seek demolition was done illegally," said attorney Richard Berger. "New York State Law, the Environmental Equality Review Act, says that every such demolition case requires at least an environmental assessment. In this case, because it's a building that's eligible for the state and national registers of historic places, it's absolutely required."

But the attorney representing Gateway Trade says the demolition permits were issued long before Berger's clients heard from the state about the building's eligibility for the historic registers.

However, Berger says they have another key piece of new information – an engineering report commissioned by Gateway Trade.

"We found out that the, a hidden report that had never been made available before to us, show that the building is structurally sound, and doesn't need to be demolished," Berger said.

Gateway Trade's attorney says the company never meant to keep the report hidden, and says the building might be structurally sound, but it would have to be taken apart to tell.

The judge will render a decision after reviewing documents submitted Wednesday. He says even if he grants the Heritage Group's request, he can't stop Gateway Trade from demolishing the building.

But the group says it's hoping to work with Gateway Trade and the city to find a way to re-use it.

"All that we need is the will. We've got the way. We've got a team of professionals standing by to work on this project and there's funding available that'll cover the cost of that, so there's no reason this should not move forward in a positive way," said Dana Saylor, Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group.

The group says it's waiting to hear from Gateway Trade about the proposal.

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