National Grid plans to demolish the Glenwood Landing power plant (GWL) - beginning March 2014 - the almost 100-year-old, historically and architecturally unique Long Island landmark, to reduce its tax assessment. The company plans to minimally remediate the site, pave it over, fence it off, and leave Glenwood Landing’s prime waterfront inaccessible, unused and not generating badly needed tax revenues to make up for the loss of $14 million annually from the utility.
National Grid will retain turbines, oil tanks, substations, high-voltage overhead cables and transmission towers—alongside NYPA’s turbines and Global Partners’ oil terminal and tanks—making the area permanently unsuitable for all residential and most commercial uses that are neighborhood-friendly and waterfront-accessible.
We ask National Grid to hold off demolition until full consideration can be given to ways this landmark building might be most advantageously repurposed as a commercial, tax-paying enterprise as quickly as possible, and its prime waterfront revitalized and made accessible for our Glenwood Landing-North Shore-Hempstead Harbor communities.
Reasons for Saving and Repurposing the GWL plant
• All over the country and world, decommissioned power plants and industrial buildings are being repurposed for the public good and corporate profit, because their location near water, solid construction and unusual size make them ideal for repurposing (see Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant, Baltimore’s Pratt Street plant, Chicago’s Homan Square Power House, London’s Battersea Power Station).
• Closer to home, the Yonkers Glenwood power plant will be repurposed as a convention center and hotel. Senator Schumer, last year, pledged millions of dollars in federal tax credits for the project, which is slated to open in 2016 and is estimated to create 1,000 jobs.
• The GWL plant’s condition is vastly superior to the crumbling Yonkers plant. Huge steel beams brace its massive walls throughout; its brickwork has been replaced and repointed. The LI Regional Economic Development Council last summer discussed NYS consolidated economic development funding available for community and waterfront revitalization projects. Repurposing the GWL plant seems to qualify perfectly for such funding.
• According to the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the GWL plant meets criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as “an important work of architectural and engineering design on Long Island […] Only a small number of these buildings survive.”
• Preserving older buildings has become a standard component of urban renewal projects (see the Bethlehem PA SteelStacks; Alexandria VA Torpedo Factory) According to Alexandra Wolfe, at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, “the reuse of an existing structure is an aspect of Green Building and is considered more sustainable than demolition and rebuilding.”
• The recent Chelsea Piers CT conversion of a Clairol factory in a Stamford residential neighborhood, in just two years, created 250 jobs—thanks to the building-recycling and can-do philosophy of the company’s owners and the clear-eyed vision of the Stamford mayor and civic leaders who had the imagination, will and courage to “aggressively court” Chelsea Piers executives (see links to articles). The GWL plant can easily accommodate a full-size soccer field, ice rink, pool, gymnastics center, arts space and more - indoors.
• Since the 1963 demolition of Penn Station gave birth to the architectural preservation movement, a laissez-faire approach to historic buildings is no longer acceptable. Surely, the commercially viable preservation and repurposing of the architecturally unique GWL plant take precedence over National Grid's desire to minimize its tax assessment.
Surely, our North Shore communities’ quality of life, economic well-being and future, and the environmentally responsible regeneration of our visitor- and user-unfriendly Hempstead Harbor waterfront must not be subordinated to National Grid's self interest, but require the imagination, engagement, courage and leadership of all local, town, county, state and federal political, corporate and civic leaders.