After being cited for not having a certificate of occupancy, the Art Factory filed a lawsuit against the city seeking the court to declare tenants of historic mill buildings do not require certificates occupancies to operate out of the series of buildings on Spruce Street.
David Garsia, who is listed as a shareholder and on-site manager of the Great Falls Industrial Park, Inc. which owns the arts complex on Spruce Street, filed the lawsuit on December 9th, 2016.
The lawsuit states the city issued 80 summonses against Garsia and 65 against tenants of the Art Factory. His attorney, A. Michael Rubin, is urging the court to rule individuals utilizing the Art Factory do not need separate certificate of occupancies.
Rubin, who did not respond to a call for comment for this story, argues the summonses issued to the owner and tenants are “void” because none have a return date for court appearance as required by court rule.
The attorney for the Art Factory states in his complaint the historic buildings constructed in the 1840s at 70 Spruce Street are governed by the Rehabilitation Subcode of the Uniform Construction Code and therefore do not need a certificate of occupancy.
Inspectors from the city accompanied by police executed a search warrant at the Art Factory in late October. The city later issued 170 summonses to Garsia and his tenants for operating without the necessary certificates.
The building’s owner refused access to the structure until a search warrant was obtained, according to inspectors and city officials. David Gilmore, director of the Community Improvement Division, which is named in the lawsuit, said he is confident the city has a strong position in the case.
Garsia’s lawsuit states his company purchased the building in 1978. The space was then turned into artist studios, artesian ateliers, galleries, workshops for display and art assembly, and office space.