Hopeful To Continue Midtown Mall Student Housing

By WBNG News

December 23, 2010 Updated Dec 23, 2010 at 7:14 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After battling flames and hot spots for more than 20 hours, investigators can now begin examining the Midtown Mall to determine a possible cause.

While Tuesday's fire creates a major setback for plans to build student housing, many are optimistic about moving forward.

Action News Reporter Leigh Dana explains.

A much quieter scene on Chenango Street Thursday.

Police tape and barricades mark off a portion of the road that's still icy from water used to fight off Tuesday night's massive fire inside the Midtown Mall.

A few investigators were assessing the area, but collapsed ceilings inside are making it difficult for them to navigate through.

"Right now our investigation is still open looking into causes. Right now it doesn't appear to be anything suspicious," said Assistant Fire Marshal, Tim Dahulich.

Around 9:30 PM Tuesday, heavy flames raged through the once vacant historic building.

Hours before, construction crews were working on developing student housing.

"We've very proud of what our firemen did to contain it to what it was. There's going to be a lot of work that needs to be done," said Binghamton Mayor, Matt Ryan (D). "The interior is mainly walls. So if they can rebuild those and rebuild the roofs, we should be able to continue."

Ron Sall, President of the Downtown Business Association and owner of Sall Sterns, says while there appears to be no immediate affects downtown from the fire, businesses will soon feel the pinch from a delay of the housing complex's opening, which was scheduled for next fall.

"Things were looking really up for that project to be on schedule," Sall said. "I just think of us as a great community, resilient. I think we'll be back even stronger because of this."

Action News did speak briefly with the owner of the Midtown Mall building, Larry Gladstone, on the phone.

He would only comment that he does plan on rebuilding and continuing with the student housing project.

In Binghamton, Leigh Dana, WBNG TV Action News.

Investigators believe it will take a few days before a cause for the fire can be determined.