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Admiral’s Row relic at Brooklyn Navy Yard is sending out an SOS

Admiral’s Row relic at Brooklyn Navy Yard is sending out an SOS

Daily News 12/23/2010

By Erin Durkin

A historic Admiral’s Row building could soon be gone for good if the feds keep neglecting it, Navy Yard officials and preservationists have warned.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. plans to restore the 1830s-era Timber Shed – one of two Admiral’s Row buildings they agreed to save from the wrecking ball after a long fight.

But unless the 19th-century structure is stabilized, it could collapse this winter before the group gets its hands on the property, now owned by the National Guard.

And it’s not just the Timber Shed that’s at risk – a $60 million deal to develop the site with a supermarket and industrial space could also fall through if it crumbles, officials said.

“The building is in real distress. The roof is starting to fall in,” said Navy Yard Development Corp. President Andrew Kimball. “If action isn’t taken very, very soon to stabilize the building, it will collapse.”

Part of the roof of the Timber Shed – which was used to store ships’ masts while they cured and is believed to be the last such structure of its kind in the country – already caved in during a snowstorm last winter.

Experts say the building can still be saved, but could be beyond repair if it’s damaged further. Navy Yard officials hope to rehab it along with one of the stately former officers’ homes that make up the. The rest will be razed to make way for a ShopRite and industrial space.

Saving the shed is a required part of the city’s development deal with the federal government, Kimball said, adding that demolishing it “could jeopardize the whole project.”

The feds have begun the process to sell the land to the city, but it’s expected to take at least until the end of next summer. In the meantime, the Navy Yard wants the National Guard to either stabilize the building or let the Navy Yard’s own developer do the work.

National Guard spokesman Jon Anderson said there are several “legal requirements that must be fully satisfied before anyone can act,” and the Guard is “considering [the] best course of action” regarding the shed.

But preservationists say the Guard may be breaking the law by neglecting the historic buildings, as the Municipal Art Society warned in a letter last week.

“It [the shed] has a bright future as long as it can make it through this winter,” said policy director Lisa Kersavage. “Inertia could destroy [it] … I have no idea why the National Guard’s not acting.”