City closes Paterson Art Factory over security breaches
After a six-hour inspection yesterday, city officials closed the Paterson Art Factory Thursday morning due to security breaches, government officials said.
The violations that resulted in the closure include problematic emergency exits, electrical issues, sprinkler issues and structural issues in one of the buildings, officials said.
“There are personal safety issues in the building,” said Ruben Gomez, director of economic development. Within the Gomez Economic Development Department is the city’s Community Improvement Division which performs various inspections of the city.
Gomez said city inspectors found dozens of violations in the series of Spruce Street buildings that make up the Art Factory.
“We don’t think the closure was justified,” said Robert Moraff, lawyer for David Garsia, owner of the building, which has become the city’s premier destination for artists and craftspeople.
Moraff said the situation was under review. He said the city had provided “vague” violations as a door is unsafe without providing an explanation as to whether there was a problem with the hinges, he said.
Gomez said the violations provided by the city were specific. He said the city and building management are working to resolve the issues this summer. He said the building management had to submit documents during the summer, but after getting extensions nothing was received by the municipality.
Gomez said city officials have noticed increased activity in the building which has staged major events that have drawn “thousands” to the area. The venue hosted the Oktoberfest and has a Christmas celebration planned for Saturday, which is now uncertain. “We couldn’t just sit back and wait for disaster to happen,” Gomez said.
“The main issue with the building is the risk of fire and the safety of people present at an event or working in the building,” Gomez said.
The closure is already wreaking havoc in the popular art venue. Moraff said a film crew from New York who came to shoot inside the building must have been turned away.
Three people who were renting space at the arts complex expressed disappointment at the building’s closure. They said they were told to get out of the building.
“You have business that has just opened and now it is closed,” said one, who declined to give his name.
The four-story building has 800 clients, including artists and craftspeople who will be affected by the closure. The artists, who were evicted from the building and hung out in the parking lot, said they did not blame the owners for the closure.
“If anything needs to be fixed, it will be fixed,” Moraff said.
“We’re ready to work with them if they come and start giving us the information we need. The sooner they do, the sooner we can move forward and reopen the building. “