SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Internal and external demolitions are complete at the Woolson Block. After 11 weeks of renovations, the fourth floor has been framed and sheet-rocked into six one-bedroom units with high ceilings and classically spacious six-foot tall windows overlooking the downtown square.
In the first week of the ongoing construction project, the more than 30-person crew worked to clean up the four floors for pre-demolition work.
Through December and the next eight weeks, crews initiated outer demolition to the back of the building that overlooks the Black River and internal demolition to clear space for the framework in the building.
Now, renovations continue as workers build the framework for the elevator and continue framing and sheet-rocking the second floor.
Dry cloths hang on the first floor acting as temporary dividers sectioning the 4,500 square feet that will be made into four commercial spaces.
The construction goal is nearly halfway accomplished while the three objectives of affordable housing, new commercial space and youth services are all individually going smoothly, according to Bill Morlock, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority.
“[We are in the process of] rehabbing another dilapidated building to make downtown look better and to bring some more high quality affordable housing to the town, especially for the working poor — the people that make $10-11 an hour — and can’t really afford decent apartments in town. So these will be nice affordable apartments,” Morlock said. “I think that by bringing the youth-in-transition program in we hope to help young adults between 18-24 years to get on the right path. This is going to be a program where we give them wrap around services for two years and housing. So hopefully we can turn a few lives around.”
Morlock explained that the commercial space will be managed by two other local agencies.
“My expertise is really housing,” he said. “On the commercial side, I was looking for partners to take that particular part of the project on. Springfield On The Move and Springfield Redevelopment Corporation have partnered up to get these commercial spaces rented,”
All who are involved with the project are satisfied with the progress and Morlock sees the project coming together in great strides.
“Yes, very much so. They have done a really excellent job with a very difficult project,” he said. “I think people are worried about the youth-in-transition program being here. They can be more comfortable with the program knowing there will be a resident manager there watching over the young adults that live here. It’s a program that was proved well to work in Brattleboro that was developed by Danielle Southwell who now works at Health Care and Rehabilitation Services.”