By Jonathan Bissonnette
Central Falls - Demolition began Friday morning on the burnt-out property at 661 Pine St., which has long been an eye-sore to many in the square-mile city, with city officials saying the ultimate goal is to 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 ½-story dwelling to collapse. 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 threat to pedestrians and adversely 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 seven months to resolve the issues surrounding the charred building. Following the demolition, the vacant land is expected to be redeveloped into affordable housing.
City officials have called it a “win-win” plan, eradicating the nuisance property and redeveloping into beneficial and needed housing.
In a statement, Mayor James Diossa said: “The demolition of 661 Pine, one of the city’s worst blighted properties, represents the beginning of the next chapter for redevelopment in our community. Over the next year, work on new affordable housing will begin on the site, which will have a transformative effect on the neighborhood. I’d like to recognize the work out business task force has done to improve the quality of life in our city, especially concerning this property.”
Originally published in the 8/15/2015 edition of the Pawtucket Times.