Razing request for former Hamilton paper mill on hold

A request to demolish a key building on the former Beckett Paper Mill property at 400 Dayton St. has been put on hold, at the city’s request, so the owner and Hamilton officials can create a plan for redevelopment of the industrial site.

ExploreFIRST REPORT: Former Hamilton paper mill at center of demolition disagreement

Simfall LLC, based in Lockport, N.Y., has owned the property since late 2015. The company in 2015 bought the former paper mill, which most recently was operated by Mohawk Fine Papers until 2012.

Simfall’s request for a demolition permit was to go before Hamilton’s Architectural Design Review Board on Tuesday, but when City Manager Joshua Smith learned about the request, he contacted David Wendt, a Simfall representative, and asked him to pull the matter from the agenda, which Wendt did.

“David Wendt and I met Monday evening and Tuesday morning,” Smith said. “We had positive dialogue about the building they were contemplating demolishing.”

Smith added: “The city will work with his company to create a concept for the entire site in the next few months, and we were in agreement that the two large buildings and the former office building should be saved while a site/marketing plans are completed.”

Wendt was unavailable to comment Wednesday.

ExploreRELATED: After fire, former Hamilton mill to be partly demolished by new owner

The delay of a razing request came as good news for local historian Brian Lenihan, who knew the Beckett razing had been pulled from the architectural board’s agenda, but appeared at the meeting anyway, to ask that the city take steps to protect the building’s interior by having the company seal the missing windows, where water pours into the structure during storms.

“I’m very thankful that it’s been taken off (Tuesday’s meeting agenda), but I understand it could still be brought back again,” Lenihan told the architectural board.

“One concern I have is the way it’s being maintained,” he added. “It has open windows, broken windows, which allow the elements to get into it. It continues to deteriorate. That may be one reason that they propose to demolish it.”

Part of the former Beckett Mill was destroyed by a blaze, which was a suspected arson. Fire Chief Steve Dawson said the city is not close to knowing who set it on fire, but youths may have been the cause.

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