The city executed a search warrant at the Art Factory on Tuesday morning to inspect the series of former mill buildings on Spruce Street which have been operating without certificate of occupancies, according to inspectors.
Inspectors from the Community Improvement Division and the Paterson Health Department accompanied by police officers searched the building for various violations. Jerry Lobozzo, construction official for the city, said the inspectors were looking for “life safety violations.”
Lobozzo and other inspectors walked through the buildings. The 67 businesses that rent space at the location did not have certificate of occupancies as required by local law. David Gilmore, director of Community Improvement Division, said both the businesses and the building owner will likely receive violations for operating at the buildings without proper paperwork.
David Garsia, owner of the Art Factory, said the building is operating similarly to We Work, a shared workspace. He said this likely means the businesses which are considered as members rather than tenants at the building may not have to obtain separate certificate of occupancies.
Lobozzo explained the businesses need certificate of occupancies to allow the city to keep track of who is at the building. He said at present the city does not know who is at the building.
“You could have called me for a list,” Garsia told Lobozzo. He provided a list of businesses that are housed at the location. The list contained names of individuals occupying each of the suites, but not contact information.
The city will have to send letters to each of the individuals to have them obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city. The city charges $151 for a certificate of occupancy, according to the municipal code.
Garsia’s building at least on one occasion denied inspectors entry into the building forcing the division to secure a warrant. His building was forced shut by the city late last year for safety violations. Those “imminent hazard” violations have been addressed, he said.
The city’s health inspector did not find any violations at the building. He said he arrived to inspect a possible retail kitchen at the location, but found the individuals who work at the location preparing their own food in the kitchen, rather than it being a commercial operation.
The building owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes to the municipality. When asked if he is current on city taxes, Garsia said: “I’m not prepared to answer that.”
The Art Factory was once viewed as a gem in the Silk City, but that impression changed when city residents learned the owner, listed in city records as Great Falls Industrial Park Inc., has been free riding at the expense of homeowners.
Garsia said the city and he were expected to resolve outstanding issues months ago, but a meeting that was to have happened never materialized. He said some of the violations that were issued last year have been “taken care” of.
Gilmore said the building is still defined as a mill. He said the owner has to go through zoning to properly designate the building for its present use.