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Bethlehem Steel demo set for next week

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Buffalo: Bethlehem Steel demo set for next week
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A symbol of Western New York's industrial past is set to come crashing down next week as crews will officially get the all-clear to demolish the Bethlehem Steel building in Lackawanna Friday. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the demolition and why one group is still fighting to stop it.

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — "It's a shame that Lackawanna has this building that they can easily optimize off of," Danielle Huber said.

But instead, the state has given construction crews final permission to begin tearing down the old Bethlehem Steel Administration building as early as next week.

"Wednesday, third party air monitor comes in and does background checks,” Jeffrey Leavell of Zoladz Construction explained. “That will leave Thursday and Friday where we can start demolition at that time. Because the building is in such poor condition, the demolition is done as a controlled demolition where you take down the building with the asbestos in the building."

That will require taking the former office, built in 1901, apart piece by piece due to asbestos. It's a task Huber and her Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group have been fighting since May.

"There's so many adaptive reuse possibilities for this building,” she said. “I have a handful of ideas for this building, but really any investment to save it would be wonderful."

In fact, that's something Zoladz Construction spent 90 days trying to determine at the request of city officials, and despite Huber's efforts to place it on the National Register of Historic Places, they found that renovating the building would cost more than tearing it down.

"It's extremely dangerous,” Leavell explained. “Anywhere where there are wood floors in the building, they've collapsed into the basement. Part of the roof and ceiling have collapsed in. The walls are decayed and corroded."

That's not stopping Huber though, who is now ramping up efforts to save what she feels could be the future of Lackawanna.

"We are attempting to plan an 11th hour rescue,” she said. “I've been on the phone all morning with a variety of people. It's just a shame that it did not resonate with the local government here. It's a shame."

Leavell wouldn't give an estimate on how much the project will cost, but expects to complete the demolition in 4 to 6 weeks barring extreme weather conditions.

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