BRATTLEBORO -- A development group wants to rehabilitate the property at 118 Elliot St. and create a new arts center for Brattleboro.
John Loggia and Lissa Weinmann are waiting for the results from the latest round of environmental tests to see if they will be able to renovate the former Laundromat across the street from the Brattleboro Fire Department.
The business partners have had their eyes on the 3,100-square-foot property for a year-and-a-half, but water tests found that the wells are contaminated with dry cleaning solvents.
Officials from the Agency of Natural Resources were in Brattleboro Wednesday to go over the latest results and determine if the couple can proceed, or if more tests are needed.
Weinmann said she and Loggia want to build a small screening room that would show independent films and also be able to handle theater productions.
They also want to create office space for arts organizations and non-profit groups that want to have a greater presence downtown.
"We feel like there is a need for this kind of performance space," Weinmann said. "As the town moves more and more toward becoming a cultural center, we feel like we want to be a part of that. It is the perfect location for the type of space that we have in mind."
The business partners have been working with the building owner for more than a year and they were ready to purchase the property when the first tests came back showing the
Since then, she said, they have been going back and forth with the state.
They worked with the Windham Regional Commission to perform additional tests on the water and state officials will decide if they can move ahead or if more tests are needed.
"We look at that space with a longing to see it become what we envision," Weinmann said. "It is an active beautiful part of town and the building is just sitting there doing nothing. Every time we think it is time to start, more questions appear."
Loggia said he did not want to discuss specifics about the plan because the state might require further tests.
He said it appears that the solvents that were discovered in the well do not pose a threat or prohibit development, but the chemicals could limit future development there.
He said the couple eventually hopes to work with artists and organizations to provide a performance space that features programs that are not currently available in the area.
"Our aim is to beautify the existing structure to provide an aesthetically pleasing center that will increase foot traffic and out of town visitors for the arts in a troubled part of town," Loggia said. "Until we know what, if any, limitations the state will place on development, it is impossible to be totally specific about our final plans."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.