Businessmen have big plans for Willow Street Elementary School

Jason Malloy
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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.

jmalloy@trurodaily.com


Organizations: Willow Street Elementary School, Summit Series

Geographic location: TRURO, Willow Street, Canada Fredericton Moncton Halifax

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Recent comments

  • G
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    well on reading your excitement on Willow street school and land..
    Ihave to say this is way to low a price to pay... I cant beleave your town would ever agree to this ..i know they play to increase it value but as is in 10 yrs the package would be ???? what a profit for the two gentlemen..

  • smoore
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    I think this is a great idea. I like the look of this building and would make a great place to live.

  • Keith
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Very pleased to see that Mr. Meech and Mr. Moffatt are planning to keep the hertiage aspect with their proposed Willow St. school project. Nice to know that there are still good people out their wanting to protect the hertiage that is so important to this town

  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Let's just hope the town does not eventually need to pump dollars into this project if it should fail. I am tired of my tax dollars being used to prop up old buildings in this town when the streets are falling apart.

  • livi
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Are you kidding me? $110, 000 ? That seems like a pretty low price for such a great heritage building and location! Good on them for grabbing that up, I bet the rest of us would have put in an offer if we would have known it was that affordable! Willow Street school is one of the only aesthetically pleasing buildings in all of Truro.

  • Tim
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Pye s wanted it for a parking lot, would this project not be better. Not too many people interested in an old school, let's tear all the history of the Town down, and build more Truro Center Malls, great move there. Always love to hear from people that don't live here, they have so many tax dollars to add to the town's bank roll.

  • G
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    well on reading your excitement on Willow street school and land..
    Ihave to say this is way to low a price to pay... I cant beleave your town would ever agree to this ..i know they play to increase it value but as is in 10 yrs the package would be ???? what a profit for the two gentlemen..

  • Sam
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    A huge building on a huge chunk of land on one of Truro's busiest streets? Seems to me like it would be worth a lot more than $110,000, but what do I know?

    The town will get the same property tax in the future whether they sell it for $110,000 and it gets developed or they sell it for $400,000 and it gets developed.
    Why should the Town of Truro leave money on the table, especially during a harsh recession?

    This land has got to be worth a pile of money to a car dealer (perhaps the one next door). But the dealer would just tear down the building and clear off the lot for car display, and you can't charge much property tax on bare land without buildings.

    So this development is a great idea, asthetically and tax revenue-wise, as long as a fair price is paid.

  • Sam
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    This is a great concept and I applaud the people for stepping forward to do it. That said, that property and the building are worth WELL more than $110,000 dollars. Yet again our polititians are letting our assets go for a song.

    I get the fact the something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it but $110M is just unacceptable. Given that this is a central location, could the town or county not find something useful to renovate this building into? If we can't get decent money for it why not renovate it and use it as a community centre ... or hey - A CIVIC CENTRE !!!!

    No wonder these two are willing to do this project. With the kind of financal upside they are looking at if I'd even fathomed getting that property and building for $110M I'd have done a deal on it myself.

  • Say YES
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Sounds good to me!

  • What a Deal
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    $110,000 wow! what a deal. $110,000 for building + approx $400,00 for reno = building worth approx $2,500,000 - Seem like good business sense. They get the equity and the town get the taxes, if it will be assessed at worth and not cost!

    A smaller lot down on prince is listed for $399,000