ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Officials from Albany speak on the fire at the former Doane Stuart building. Mayor Kathy Sheehan called the incident and “devastating fire” and went on to say the building holds significant meaning to many members of the community. The mayor said that the city was hoping the building could be revitalized. She also said the fire is under investigation at this time.
Albany Fire Chief Joseph Gregory said the original call came in at 6:26 p.m. on Thursday and crews were at the former school by 6:33 p.m. When crews arrived the building was already burning throughout the structure. The chief said just moments after firefighters arrived the steeple collapsed into the building.
There were a total of 24 units and 51 firefighters on the scene to battle the blaze. Luckily, no one was injured while fighting the fire. The chief said the fire was finally under control around 10:30 p.m. The chief said as of Friday morning they are still on the scene putting out hot spots and making sure the fire doesn’t start again.
The Albany Fire Department requested aid from Selkirk fire. Those crews helped supplement water supplies to the Albany crews through the Bethlehem water system. The fire took a lot of water to fight. Albany also used its mutual aid plan and the Troy, Watervliet and Watervliet Arsenal companies responded.
The building was sold in 2017 to Kenwood Commons, LLC. The mayor said there had been activity on the site as there were plans to develop the building. Those plans included creating condos, apartments and artist space. The mayor said that construction was abandoned in 2019. The mayor said since then the building had been visited multiple times by the Code Department. The mayor said as recently as March 14, she and several officials from both the city and county held a call with a company called Guild Investment Group, who said they held the mortgage for the property. The mayor said they asked about zoning uses and tax delinquency with the city to see what they could do with the property.
The Director of Building and Codes said that since construction was abandoned in 2019 his department would do regular checks on the building, with or without being called. He said that had over a dozen calls for boards being removed from windows and people vandalizing or stripping the building of materials. He said they have to do two major board-ups to the building which involved outside contractors. August 2022, was the last major board-up project after all of the boards and doors on the first floor had been removed. The property had been leveled off at the same time.