By Jonathan Bissonnette
Central Falls- The burnt-out property at 661 Pine St. has long been an eye-sore to many in the square-mile city and has also become a potential threat to pedestrians in the area.
However, city officials have worked together to come up with a "win-win" plan to demolish the vacant husk and redevelop the land into affordable housing.
The eight-unit apartment building was heavily damaged in a May 2014 fire, leaving more than 20 people without a home. Everyone escaped uninjured, but the blaze caused a portion of the roof at the 3 1/2 story dwelling to collapse.
The intensefire in the densely developed multi-family neighborhood drew assistance from nearby units in Pawtucket, Lincoln, and Cumberland, as well as fire-fighters from Providence and North Providence.
Fire Investigators have said the cause of the two-alarm fire was officially listed as undetermined due to the extensive damage.
Since the fire more than a year ago, the charred husk on Pine Street has loomed in the neighborhood, acting as a major threat to pedestrians and adversly affecting property values, city officials have said.
However, the Central Falls Nuisance Task Force and city officials have worked together for the better part of the last six months to resolve the issues surrounding the charred building.
Demolition is expected to commence within the next few weeks, and the space will then be redeveloped into affordable housing.
"During my administration, I have made it a priority to address the blighted and unsafe properties in the community," Mayor James Diossa said. " I established the Nuisance Task Force to proactively achieve compliance from property owners by bringing the relevant stakeholders in the community and city government together. I'm excited to see the redevelopment of 661 Pine St. get under way becuase it represents the great work the task force is doing and the potential for what we can achieve," Diossa added.
Through a 2013 executive order, Diossa created the Nuisance Task Force to tackle unsightly properties throughout the city. The task force includes representative from the mayor's office, the Law Department, City Council, code enforcement, Fire and Police departments, public works, and Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin's office.
Full article can be accessed online here, or in Saturday, 7/4 edition of the The Times.