In another sign of the rapid changes along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront, the Kent Avenue power station in Williamsburg is currently being demolished. The monumental masonry power plant, designed by Thomas Edward Murray, was built in 1907 for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company and is owned by Con Edison. “We have permission to demolish it. It is being demolished in phases,” said Alfonso Quiroz, spokesman for the utility. “We have no specific plans for the site.” Like the Waterside Power Station site south of the United Nations, which was also designed by Murray, and demolished last year to make way for a development by Sheldon Solow, the cleared Kent Avenue site promises to attract significant interest among developers.
Preservationists hope to persuade Con Edison to halt demolition, which is currently not visible on the building’s exterior. “From what I understand, demo permits have been pulled, but it’s not too late to save the building,” said Lisa Kersavage, director of advocacy and policy at the Municipal Art Society. The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance also believes the building should be saved, noting that the Brooklyn industrial waterfront was named one of the eleven most endangered sites in America last year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Con Ed is supported by the rate-payers of this city,” said Roland Lewis, president of the alliance. “There is a selfish interest and a public interest at stake.”
Both Lewis and Kersavage implied that cultural institutions, such as museums, may be eyeing the building, but declined to cite any specific interested parties. “Look at the Tate Modern in London. This could be a wonderful location for a cultural institution,” Kersavage said. But Quiroz said that Con Edison is moving ahead with demolition plans and is not negotiating with any cultural institutions that may wish to rehabilitate the building. “There is no discussion,” he said.