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BHS Macy’s renovation on target for March 4 opening

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 6:43 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington High School students displaced by PCB contamination at their school are anxiously awaiting the March 4 date when they’ll move into the former Macy’s building downtown. That leaves only four weeks left for contractors to complete the project.

Contractors working on the $10 million renovations have made some serious progress since work began over a month ago. Officials say they’re 75% done transforming the run-down, abandoned department store into a temporary school.

“I think it’s gonna be pretty cool,” said David Farrington with Farrington Construction, the lead contractor on the project. “Really happy with the progress.”

In four short weeks, Farrington says BHS downtown will be complete. “Got all the sheetrock up, all the trim up, the base, the flooring’s getting done, carpets are being cleaned now,” Farrington said. “We’re waiting on a few things like the last batch of doors will be in the middle of next week, all the door locks, there are 200 door locks to go on.”

Once the more complex pieces of the project are done, the contractors will turn to classroom garnishes. “We have bulletin board and whiteboards and stuff like that, all the fire extinguishers, and then the bathrooms that we’re building new,” Farrington said.

Some reminders of the old department store remain including mirrored columns, light fixtures, and floor tiles, which Farrington says his team salvaged. “As you go into different rooms, there are shoe racks that used to be here or a perfume stand was here. And the library -- that’s going to be a new library -- I think was a shoe department,” Farrington said.

Though BHS Interim Principal Lauren McBride only recently assumed her position, she’s been a part of the planning process since the beginning. “I didn’t know what to envision when I walked in here. We talked about it conceptually, I’ve looked at floor plans, but to actually come. I’ve seen this when it was an empty department store and to come in and to see walls up... it has exceeded any sort of expectations that I had,” McBride said.

Farrington says his team didn’t get started until December 15, but he says he’s used to working on a tight timeline and that collaboration with subcontractors has been key, with up to 60 workers on-site at a time.

School leaders say they’re just looking forward to seeing students walking in the new hallways.

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