Arson-damaged Barre City building to come down - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Arson-damaged Barre City building to come down

Thom Lauzon Thom Lauzon

Barre, Vermont - October 8, 2010

The outside of the old Key Bank Building in downtown Barre is mostly intact, but an arson fire left skeletal-like remains on the inside.

Mayor Thom Lauzon owns the property and the adjacent building.

"Both buildings went through the same fire but 47... Sustained a lot more fire damage and 49 was mostly smoke and water," Lauzon said.

Lauzon says they spent the past few months gutting the Main Street building but were recently stopped in their tracks.

"Six to seven weeks and about $150,000 into the demolition we learned that the building was going to be subject to seismic requirements," he said.

City officials say the building requires new construction because it does not meet new earthquake standards-- updates that would cost about $600,000.

"We would have to build a steel super structure with lateral bracing from the ground through the building to the roof. My personal feeling is it's a little overkill," Lauzon said.

On Thursday night the Development Review Board gave Lauzon permission to demolish the building. Stating that it would cost more to add infrastructure to the building as is than it would be to start from scratch. Lauzon says that is the last thing he wants to do.

"I know what the downtown is going to look like without this building. I have already imagined it. It does not give me a good feeling to have to take it down," Lauzon said.

But residents said they would prefer functional space over historical value.

"I could see it being torn down for something that we all could use," said Chrystal Stillwell of Barre.

"We need a change. We need something in the store. We need something downtown," said David Trzcinski of Barre.

Lauzon says he is working with the city on possible alternate plans, and the final decision needs to be made very soon.

"This building cannot go through a winter the way it is," Lauzon said. "We need to put a roof on it. So we need to either move forward or take the building down."

A decision Lauzon says will be unfortunate, and expensive.

"I'd suffice it to say if it doesn't work out this will be the most expensive parking lot I've ever developed," Lauzon said.

A historical site facing modern challenges.

The building owner has 30 days to make a decision, and says he is hopeful he and the city can reach a deal to avoid demolition.

Molly Smith - WCAX News

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