Fire burns through industrial building in Yonkers Carpet Mills Arts District

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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A fire at the massive warehouse building in the Yonkers Carpet Mills Arts District on  Monday morning required a response from all 18 companies in the Yonkers Fire Department.

The fire started around 4 a.m. and was contained by 8 a.m., with several of the 80 firefighters that responded still on scene early Monday afternoon battling small pockets of the fire, according to Yonkers Fire Commissioner Robert Sweeney.

The building is part of a sprawl of industrial warehouses that made up the former Alexander Smith & Sons Carpet Mills on Nepperhan Avenue beside the Saw Mill River in Yonkers. The buildings that make up the district are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fire mostly affected the third and fourth floor of 222 Lake Ave., part of the manufacturing complex between Saw Mill River Road and Nepperhan Avenue, Sweeney said.

The Alexander Smith company left Yonkers to move its operations to the southern U.S. in 1954. Today, the building is occupied by a series of smaller uses, including an auto parts store, a mattress store and a stained glass studio.

The complex is home to YOHO Artist Community at 540 and 578 Nepperhan Ave., a space where more than 80 artists can rent studio space. George Huang, co-owner and property manager of The Heights Real Estate Co. in Manhattan, which operates YOHO Artist Community, said the artists lofts sustained water damage.

“The fire did not touch as at all,” Huang said. “We feel very fortunate and feel very badly for our neighbors and wish them the best in recovery and rebuilding, but the artist studios were not affected by the fire.”

Photos by Bob Rozycki

A coalition of 10 carpet mill building owners teamed up in 2014 to rebrand the complex as an arts district. Last year, the city approved a zoning change to allow for ground-floor restaurants and specialty shops, such as retail home furnishings, sports, amusements, art galleries, crafts and import-export businesses, at the comlex. In December 2015,  a $500,000 capital grant from Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, helped fund exterior improvements to the buildings, including streetside banners branding the Carpet Mills Arts District.

Sweeney said the cause of the fire is not yet known.

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About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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