Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mill Bites the Dust

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mill Bites the Dust

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- A demolition crew began tearing down a century-old mill on Wednesday, ending a last-ditch campaign by activists to save a building that had been deemed eligible for listing as a national landmark.

A large excavator swiped and clawed at the brick edifice at Straight and Essex streets for most of the day, removing a painted sign that bore the name of the company that built the factory in 1888 -- John Royle & Sons Machine Works.

Activists said the owner -- UFVS Management Co. of Purchase, N.Y. -- appeared interested in finding a way to save the building but entered negotiations last week with high demands that ultimately could not be reached.

With the Royle destroyed, activists vowed to protect dozens of other privately owned historic mills that dot the city. UFVS pursued demolition to save money on property taxes, raising alarms that other mill owners might pursue the same strategy.

David Soo, executive director of the Friends of the Great Falls, who led the effort to save the Royle mill, called on the city to protect the remaining mills before they fall. In light of the controversy surrounding the Royle mill, the city's historical commission last month began to assess whether to seek landmark status for 12 other mills.

"The community can't trust these mill owners to protect Paterson's historical legacy," Soo said. "They can't be trusted."

UFVS tried to preserve the mill's exterior several years ago by devising a plan to convert the vacant interior to market-rate condos. It renewed building permits as recently as last year. But the project collapsed as the housing market continued to slide. The land will remain vacant, probably for some time, until a new development plan is put forward.

An attorney for UFVS, Francis Ciambrone, who negotiated with preservationists, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The final attempt by activists failed Monday when the owner rejected a purchase offer from a city developer, Councilman Andre Sayegh said. …

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