Old Mohawk Carpet Mills factory falling apart, Amsterdam mayor searches for solutions

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AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The once proud crown jewel of the Carpet City now barely stands as an eyesore and a serious safety hazard.

“It has a wonderful history, but it doesn’t have a very good future. It’s just something that’s got to come down,” says Mayor Michael Cinquanti.

He says the old Mohawk Carpet Mills factory on Elk Street has been falling apart since before he took office, but things are quickly getting worse. Wear and tear and weather now leave much of four floors on one side completely collapsed. He says the safest thing would be to tear it down, but that’s just not possible, since it’s nearly impossible to find the owners.

“We’ve taken it to court, we’ve issued citations, we’ve sent all the required notifications and claims. They keep coming back to us undeliverable, undeliverable,” Cinquanti explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

He says there is a possibility the company, which lists an address in Long Island, may have gone under and doesn’t exist anymore, but he says it’s also possible those in charge are running an elaborate con.

“There are things that to you or I, there is no rhyme or reason,” he begins. “But there are financial — there’s all kinds of [reasons], you know. ‘I own this factory in northeastern United States that’s worth X-amount of dollars’, and they put it down on something and they go get a loan. It’s a game. It’s a shell game. They take advantage of cities like ours, they take advantage of taxpayers, they take advantage and they put people’s lives in danger.”

It’s a mystery that’s costing Amsterdam more and more money. The owners, listed only on tax records as “Lower Mill Complex LLC”, have not paid property taxes since acquiring the land and buildings around 2005, Cinquanti says. The city also had to put up fences, police and drone patrols to keep people out.

“We’re trying to make sure that we keep it as contained as we possibly can, because we simply don’t have the money to take it off the face of the earth, which is what we would like to do,” he says.

Cinquanti says the building is almost worthless. City tax records place the 5.4 acre property’s full market value at only $163,934 and an assessed taxable value of $100,000. The mayor says the depreciation is largely due to the various fires, extended time unused and subsequent damage. Rotted wooden beams can be seen hanging around the massive hole left by the building collapse, and all around are the broken windows and sinking ceilings. Despite it’s low value, Cinquanti says it would cost $15 to $20 million to knock it down. That would be more than half of the city’s overall budget.

“We just couldn’t possibly do that to the taxpayers of the city, but we do have loss of property, loss of life concerns,” he says.

Mayor Cinquanti says before the city resolves to seizing ownership and thus financial burden, they will first keep trying to find the owners and make them take responsibility. His next step is to get the state attorney general involved and request aid from the EPA.

“When we do seek help, I’ve reached out to several agencies already now, we can say this is what we’ve done. We’ve gone down every avenue unsuccessfully,” he explains.

He further adds there is a light glimmer of hope for the property yet. Although the collapsed section is close to 100 years old and made of antiquated brick and wood, other sections built later on were created with steel beams and poured concrete. Cinquanti says he himself spent much of his youth working to restore the building back in his 20s while working with family in construction.

“That portion, I can tell you, it’s built like a bunker and from what we can see of the collapsed portion, it is likely to come in on itself, but not drag down the other sections with it,” Cinquanti explains. “I’ve been in that building, I’ve been up and down the elevators, I’ve been over the ramps. There are opportunities that could come forward that would make that building attractive for a lot of different reasons, but again we have to solve one problem to create the opportunity.”

“We are not going to give up on structures that are safe, with history. We’re going to try and find uses for them, all the more reason to get rid of that unbearable factory,” he goes on to say. “We will solve the problem, but for me to tell you that it’s going to happen next week, next month or next year, I’d be speaking out of turn.”

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