Despite damage from a weekend fire, the former O’Connell School in the West End will still be converted to apartments for senior citizens, the project’s architect said Monday.
Developer Ted Lazarus and a crew of engineers examined the building Monday morning and concluded that it can be saved despite extensive water and smoke damage, architect Charles Nyberg said.
“It’s Mr. Lazarus’ intention to go forward. Fortunately the addition had a masonry wall — that saved the building,” Nyberg said.
The fire marshal’s office is investigating what caused a massive fire that burned through the northern end of the former school early Saturday morning.
The building looks undamaged from the front — facing Park Avenue — because the fire burned in the back. Brickwork on the first and second floors is blackened, windows are blown out and window sills look warped.
Mayor Ken Cockayne went to the scene Saturday morning and saw the roof of the north end had burned through.
“This is just a bump in the road to get the project complete,” Cockayne said. “I’m sure it will require some redesign, but it will go forward.”
Cockayne’s administration sold the O’Connell and Bingham buildings, both former elementary schools, to Bristol Enterprises Inc. two years ago for a little less than $220,000.
Ted Lazarus, head of the company, put together a package of historic preservation tax credits, local incentives, private financing and $3.5 million in state aid as part of his plan for turning both buildings into senior citizens apartments. The plan is to finish construction on both by the end of 2018.
Bristol Enterprises started work last month, and said it already had a list of prospective tenants. The company expects to create about 100 apartments in the buildings and rent them in early 2019.
Bristol Enterprises said it envisions one-bedroom apartments with monthly rents of about $940.
Fire was confined to the northern end of O’Connell, facing the basketball courts and the Pequabuck River. But water damage spread throughout the basement and even into the gym, a separate building just to the west.