A Battle Over Preservation in a Strip Once Worthy of Admirals

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Once they were the shipshape town houses of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s senior officers, but now the gray buildings sit like ruins encountered in a jungle, their facades, roofs and interiors overgrown with ivy, weeds, even saplings.

The punched-out windows and doors, rusted railings and vandalized rooms of Admiral’s Row have become a blight in an invigorated pocket of Downtown Brooklyn — the cluster of homes are within walking distance of Borough Hall and the expensive condos and brownstones of Dumbo and Fort Greene. So neighbors and preservationists have tried to stem the neglect of the structures that make up the strip — 10 buildings from the 19th century and a timber shed built before the Civil War, once used for drying hardwood beams for sailing ships with tall masts and perhaps the last structure of its kind in the country.

But Admiral’s Row has been caught in a long-running dispute involving preservationists, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and the Army National Guard, which manages the six-acre property for the federal government.

In recent months, preservationists and some advocates in the neighborhood have embraced the Navy Yard corporation’s plan, agreeing to save the shed and just one town house — Quarters B, the oldest, but the one in the best condition — and tear down the remaining buildings. The cleared land would then make way for a supermarket that the 13,000 residents of the three nearby housing projects have long desired, a retail plaza and a new light-industry building....

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