The Abington Fire Department is regularly inspecting the former New England Art Factory building and is satisfied that the structure is up to code, Fire Chief John Nuttall told selectmen Monday night.
Nuttall made the comments to counter remarks made by amateur fire experts recently on social media expressing surprise the 130-year-old wooden structure hasn’t burned down yet.
“We have had multiple, multiple meetings and inspections in that building,” Nuttall said. “We had one last week where members of the department went through literally every square foot of that building.”
The 100,000-square-foot building was originally constructed by Crossett Shoe, but later became home to New England Art Publishers, with retail shops such as Decorator Fabric and Tots & Togs located on the first floor.
Shakyamuni, LLC, a Dover-based real estate development company, purchased the North Abington landmark in 2017 for a little over $1.2 million, and in 2018 received permission to rehab the structure into a 110-unit apartment complex. Progress has been slow however — an ad announcing the building is once again for sale said only about 20 percent of the interior has been framed out.. The owner’s asking price – $7 million — also raised some eyebrows.
Although the building’s exterior continues to lose siding and shingles, Nuttall said the building’s interior is fully equipped with an active sprinkler system that’s checked regularly.
Nuttall said he spent four hours inspecting the building last week with his deputy chief and four captains., making sure it was fully up to code and that his command staff was up-to-date.
“Because God forbid, if anything happens there, [the captains] are the first ones in there,” Nuttall said.
“Regardless of the status of that project, or who owns it, we’re absolutely doing out homework on that, literally on a daily basis.”