Ratner’s new ‘Ward’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Bruce Ratner is about to tear down the most historic building in the footprint of Atlantic Yards, but he’s doing it green!

The developer began prepping the Wards Bakery complex, at 800 Pacific St., for an eco-friendly demolition last week, several months after activists lost a three-year fight to preserve the ornate, 95-year-old building as a city landmark.

The building — whose destruction “would constitute a significant adverse [historic] impact” according to even Ratner’s boosters at the Empire State Development Corporation — will not be saved, but it will live on in a very different form: Three-quarters of the rubble will be recycled.

“We are seeking out every possible way to make Atlantic Yards as eco-friendly and environmentally responsible as possible,” Ratner said in the statement.

But Ratner’s green thumb is not just a matter of enviromental stewardship, but also his bottom line: In New York State, builders who meet certain criteria for energy and waste efficiency can claim up to $7.50 per square foot against their state tax bill, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ratner’s opponents slammed the developer for destroying the building — which was once called a “snow-white temple of bread-making cleanliness,” but more recently was seen as the great white hope of those who sought to block Atlantic Yards.

Built in 1911, it is recognizable by its ornamental arches and terra cotta facade, an edifice that, if polished, would shine.

“It was an integral part of the Prospect Heights landscape that we didn’t think had to be crushed,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein, who was part of the fight to save the structure.

But the ESDC said that it was “not practicable” to reuse it, and Ratner has said he can’t build his $4-billion Atlantic Yards with the Ward plant in his way.

The bakery demolition is only a small part of this phase of Atlantic Yards.

In a rush to complete his Frank Gehry-designed basketball arena in time for the 2009 season, Ratner has his sights on tearing down 15 buildings on Pacific Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues; on Dean Street; and on Flatbush, Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues.

In a letter sent to local community boards last week, a Ratner spokesperson said that the demolitions would take six months to complete.

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