On one end of Barre's Main Street the big dig continues. It's a road and infrastructure improvement on the city's busiest street. On the other end another upgrade is underway-- this one much smaller, but historic. The century-old Aldrich building is getting a remodel-- not a facelift; this project is all internal.
"We did lose this building. As you can see, there really isn't a lot left. The fire started on the third floor of the building, but it required 1.5 to 2 million gallons of water to get the fire under control," said Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon, who owns the building.
It was Memorial Day weekend two years ago when two teenagers set the place on fire. Police say the act was a random act of arson. Lauzon was at first pessimistic the building could be saved. There was a danger the structure would fall in. Lauzon says insurance paid out $1 million, but even after state and federal tax credits, he says another million will be coming out of his pocket. It's a long-term investment and this October a tenant will be occupying the bottom floor.
Keith Paxman, the former owner of the Common Man in the Mad River Valley, and a partner will be opening a bistro/tap room called the Cornerstone. Lauzon has high hopes it will succeed in the sometimes maligned downtown. He also is the elected cheerleader for Barre.
"You know, it's just the right thing to do. I mean I'm mayor of this town and if I bailed out... if I won't have faith in this community, who the heck will," Lauzon said.
A mayor and developer bullish on Barre.
Redevelopment doesn't end at the restaurant. Lauzon plans to turn the second floor into offices and the third floor into high-end apartments.