A group called the Historic Action Network has announced a Valentine’s Day victory over sprawl — and it’s a sweetheart win for preservationists. Here’s their field report: “The Historic Action Network celebrated a major victory following the announcement by the Troy Planning Commission that Eckerd had withdrawn its proposal to demolish the Freihofer Bakery and the Riverside Club and build a big box drugstore at Second Avenue and 126th Street in Lansingburgh, New York. For the last three years, the group has led a grassroots campaign, monitored and
participated in the planning process, lobbied city planners and officials,
even pursued legal action, in an uphill battle to preserve the historic
buildings. The decision by Eckerd came after the Planning Commission, upon reviewing a revised plan for the drugstore, requested that Eckerd submit a full environmental review and provide a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of the former bakery and the Riverside Club, including construction
options, a structural adaptation report and a cost analysis. The Freihofer
Bakery, built in 1913, is an interesting and structurally sound industrial
building with a unique curved facade and gallery of arched windows. The adjoining Riverside Club, built in 1895 as a rowing and social club, is recognized as an excellent and rare example of Shingle-style architecture. Stained Georgia pine paneled walls, a second floor ballroom and a magnificent turret staircase are still intact. The group was disappointed that Eckerd had been unwilling to consider the adaptive reuse of these buildings. “Again and again, retail giants have shown that they will not make a long-term investment in our communities, to bring quality to our lives and our environment,” said Eric Daillie, co-founder of the group. “Eckerd and Freihofer started as mom and pop stores a century ago, but fell to the merger mania of the 80’s and 90’s and lost their roots. Freihofer is now owned by George Weston Limited, a giant
Canadian food distributor with $25 billion in sales, and Eckerd, a chain of
2640 drugstores, is owned by giant retailer J. C. Penney. They only answer
to shareholders.” Freihofer will end a 90 year occupancy of this site when it moves to Halfmoon in April, and the buildings will become vacant. These historic buildings are at a prime location- the northern gateway to Troy, on the shore of the Hudson River at the confluence of the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal, overlooking the Village of Waterford Historic District. Several
businesses have shown an interest in these buildings for a variety of uses.
The Historic Action Network hopes that an increased recognition of the
importance of these historic buildings will ensure their preservation and
attract sensible adaptive reuse.
For more information on how Eckerd’s was defeated, contact: Russell Ziemba (518) 272-1539 or 482-2667 – Eric Daillie (518) 273-8970