For more than a decade, Scott Witter has waged a one-man crusade against the demolition of Admiral’s Row, a stretch of dilapidated Civil-War-era buildings by the Brooklyn Navy Yard that the city plans to replace with a grocery store complex.
Witter has written more than 20 letters to city and federal officials demanding that the Brooklyn Navy Yard reconsider its decision to save only two of the row’s 11 buildings. Even after other conservation groups begrudgingly accepted the buildings’ fates, Witter has continued to oppose the demolition plans.
“I attended every public meeting that the public is allowed to attend,” said Witter. “They had their own agenda…they didn’t consider saving all of them, they didn’t consider tearing down the rest of it and just preserving the facades.”
Where once there were warehouses, pallet-laden forklifts and idling tractor-trailers, now there are lines of parked cars in front of new four, five and seven-story condos and apartment buildings on Grand Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Even in a neighborhood intensely aware of its own rapid gentrification, Clinton Hill residents said that the block’s transformation was surprisingly sudden – five new developments in less than a decade, most replacing the buildings that once lined Grand Avenue and Steuben Street north of Pratt Institute.
“I just knew that there was one, and then all of a sudden there were like six over the course of two years,” said Laura Minor, an assistant professor at Pratt Institute who has lived on Steuben Street for three years.