WILMINGTON — After anxious anticipation, renovation work on a building set for condos and retail space began Monday.
"They're cleaning it out," Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson said of the corner building at 5 East Main Street owned by Lorista Holdings. "Next they'll probably plywood the building and Tyvek over the plywood so they can heat the building and work on the interior. They have to shore up the foundation from within and that kind of stuff."
The developers had issues involving how to start and finding tenants, Ohlson said. They also had several hearings with the Development Review Board where plans changed and were revised to fit in with the character of the historic village district. They hope to be done in eight weeks.
Previously, town officials voiced their concern around the boarded-up buildings which sat vacant for two years. Not only were aesthetics an issue, but safety and potential trespassing were too.
The building at 5 East Main is located across the street from Town Offices. It was part of a plan for three buildings that sit side by side, including 1 and 3 East Main, which are not being addressed just yet.
Four condominium units on the second and third floors of 5 East Main will be sold. Downstairs will serve as retail space. Ohlson said there were discussions with a potential tenant but he was unsure where they stood.
Although plans for all three buildings were approved by the DRB, those could change. Another permit application to the board may be needed.
"Originally, they had a connector between two buildings," said Ohlson, referring to 1 and 3 East Main. "But at this point and time, there probably won't be. The estimates came in very high apparently."
Four people were working inside 5 East Main on Monday and a Dumpster was set up behind the building. Ohlson said they were getting it ready to renovate the interior. A contractor from Wallingford, Conn., was hired for the job.
Plans for the middle building, also known as the Professional Building, are still "up in the air," according to Ohlson. A portico had been proposed for the property but he did not think that would be going forward.
Work on the controversial Dunkin' Donuts site a bit farther up East Main Street is anticipated to start closer to April. Developers expect a six-week turnaround time, said Ohlson, and an opening is expected towards the end of May.
Opponents of the project did not like the idea of having a franchise serving "fast food" and worried whether it would affect the character of the nearby historic village district. But the DRB approved the application with over 40 conditions in September.
Ohlson, who was approached about demolition there a week ago, said it could be done.
"It's not historic so I said, 'As far as I'm concerned, you can demo it,'" he said.