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Supermarket poised to replace Admirals’ Row

A local preservationist is lobbying to give a full pardon for the Admirals’ Row site. But local officials continue to say that the 10 mansions along Flushing Avenue built between 1858 and 1901, which once housed naval officers and their families, needs to be razed for a supermarket. Scott Witter, curator of Brooklyn’s Other Museum of Brooklyn, wrote Governor Eliot Spitzer recently asking for the mansions’ reprieve from the wrecking ball. “I am but one American, yet Admiral’s Row is mine and belongs to every citizen of the United States of America,” wrote Witter. “It appears that you are the only person who, with a stroke of your pen, can undo this madness and insure longevity for Admiral’s Row,” he added. The museum is located at 102 Steuben Street. The website is www.brooklynsothermuseumofbrooklyn.com. Specifically, Witter wants Spitzer to rescind the 1996 Admirals’ Row Memorandum of Agreement (ARMOA), which will imminently transfer the federal property to city hands for demolition without any landmark review. Last October, the city announced that once it takes over the property, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) will manage it and build a 60,000-square-foot supermarket on the site. The plan has the backing of most in the local community. Community Board 2 District Manager Rob Perris said having a supermarket in that part of the district is a longstanding request among locals. The BNYDC has in-formed CB 2 that the cost of renovating the mansions will be about $5 million per building, he said. Perris did say that CB 2 has not taken any formal position other than to recommend that the city give the BNYDC jurisdiction over the land. City Councilmember Letitia James, who has long been active on the side of housing preservation, reiterated her stand that the needs of the community supersede historic preservation in this instance. “On balance, I would love to preserve Admirals’ Row, but to do so would be cost-prohibitive,” said James. “When you weigh the costs of preserving the buildings which would cost millions of dollars versus the needs for fresh produce for local residents, I fall on the side of the supermarket,” she said. BNYDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball said the organization has the ongoing strong support of Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, local city council members and CB2 in working to acquire the Admiral’s Row site from the Army Corps of Engineers. “The acquisition will allow for the construction of a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and a 150,000-square-foot industrial building, which will create a total of 500 new jobs,” said Kimball. “The supermarket will, for the first time, provide the surrounding community with fresh produce and other quality grocery items at affordable prices,” he added. Spitzer spokesperson Jennifer Givner said the Governor’s office has received the letter and is in the process of reviewing it.

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