Businessmen have big plans for Willow Street Elementary School
TRURO - A pair of Truro businessmen want to breath new life into a century-old building in the downtown.
Ron Meech and Gar Moffatt are proposing to turn the former Willow Street Elementary School into a mix of office and residential space called Willow Lofts.
"It's a very stately building," Meech said from the site on Monday. "I grew up on Willow Street and still live on Willow Street."
Meech did not attend the school but his children, wife and her family did and so did Moffatt.
"I think it's going to have a lot of cachet," Moffatt said, noting the downtown location and need for quality office space.
"We had both admired the building from afar."
Moffatt contacted Meech and suggested they look at putting together a proposal if the school became available. When that happened it settled on a mix of residential and professional studios, including some large lofts on the second floor.
The two are in the process of purchasing the property from the town after responding to its request for proposals earlier this year.
The sides have agreed on the purchase price of approximately $110,000 but are still finalizing some details.
The town will maintain the land behind the former school for non-organized recreational purposes.
"It's exciting," Moffatt said.
If all goes according to plan, the building, under its new role, would be operational in a year's time.
There will be some extensive renovations done to update the building to make it more efficient. The pair admitted there can be some unforeseen variables to renovating an older building, but have been through the building extensively and say the structure is very sound.
Moffatt said while the project is a business venture, it is also an opportunity to revitalize a piece of downtown real estate.
"We'd hate to see a landmark of this vintage torn down," Meech said.
"We share the community's disdain for that," Moffatt added. "I think the community would find fault in getting rid of one more building in Truro."
The brick building holds special memories for many who attended the school since it was built in 1912. Some even watched one of the biggest hockey games in Canadian history on television in the school's gymnasium. Students and staff watched the deciding Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series when Paul Henderson scored for Canada to beat the Russians.
"We watched that game in the basement there," Moffatt said pointing towards the back portion of the school.
The pair said they would like to work with the town's heritage committee to maintain key components of the building's history.
Meech and Moffatt have travelled to Fredericton, Moncton, Sackville, N.B. and Halifax to view other former schools that have been recently renovated.