Military is playing ‘Guard’ with Admirals Row

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And then there were none.

The Army National Guard said last week that a historic building inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard — the last in a row of candidates up for historic preservation — is too decrepit to repair, leaving in jeopardy one of the last remaining links to the borough’s rich military history.

The structure, known as Building B, is in serious distress, according to Col. Clark Presnell.

“Part of the north wall has collapsed,” Presnell wrote to local officials on April 21. “The mortar that holds the wall together has completely dissolved rendering the entire wall unstable.”

The building is among a series of once majestic but now-decaying properties known as Admiral’s Row, built between 1864 and 1901 to serve as officer’s quarters.

Through the thicket on Flushing Avenue between Navy Street and Carlton Avenue, passersby might still catch a glimpse of the homes — rotting husks that once breathed life.

Fruit trees, a communal vegetable garden, tennis courts, parade grounds, and an ice skating rink once surrounded the homes, where families lived as late as the 1970s.

No more.

“It is a disappointment that Building B stabilization plan could not be accomplished, but we must adhere to health and safety regulations,” wrote Presnell, whose letter was first reported by Fort Greene Patch.

The Guard, which controls the 19th-century homes, planned to stabilize the building before transferring ownership of Admirals Row to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but the property will now be sold “as is” allowing the buyer, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, to review options for the building’s stabilization — if it chooses.

The news comes two months after the Guard said it would not preserve the Timber Shed, a building on the site once used to store ship’s masts. The structure is the last of its type in the country.

The Navy Yard said in a statement that it is committed to “doing everything possible” to save Building B and the Timber Shed, but needs the feds to provide $2 million to accomplish that goal.

A spokesman would not comment about the development corporation’s controversial $60-million plan to bring a ShopRite supermarket to the corner of Flushing Avenue, and Navy Street, a plan complicated recently after it fired developer PA Associates because of the firm’s alleged involvement in a federal bribery scandal involving state Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Mill Basin).

But preservationists said they were dismayed by the fed foot-dragging.

“The federal government is shamefully disregarding their responsibility toward historic landmarks,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a preservation group. “They’ve allowed these buildings to fall into the ground without doing anything about it.”

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