Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

A crew from Dew Construction starts demolishing the old Bellows Falls Garage on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

BELLOWS FALLS — Demolition work began Monday on a $10 million project to turn the derelict Bellows Falls Garage into 27 units of affordable housing.

A crew from DEW Construction started demolishing the old garage, a process that is expected to take weeks.

The Windham-Windsor Housing Trust had originally planned on gutting the building and using the skeleton for its housing project.

But the original plan proved too costly.

Recently, the Brattleboro-based trust also had to change course about its plans to save the Art Deco concrete facade of the garage, as it wasn’t able to find a contractor to take on that portion of the building.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

While the building is 100 years old, it is not included in the Bellows Falls downtown historic district, and the state Historic Preservation Office earlier signed off on the building’s demolition.

Peter Paggi of the housing trust said last week that the demolition would take weeks because of the “surgical” aspect of the demolition, since the old garage is sandwiched between two existing businesses: PK’s Pub and a Chinese buffet restaurant.

During the demolition, that portion of Canal Street, which is in back of the building, has been closed to traffic to give DEW Construction access to the building.

Traffic is being detoured onto The Island via Depot Street.

The Rockingham Select Board is expected to discuss the project at its meeting tonight at 6 p.m., when the housing trust seeks approval for its grant documents.

The concrete structure will be replaced with a large wood-frame structure, and the facade is slated to be reproduced. The building has housed everything from a 1920s car dealership and parking garage, a dry cleaners, a soap factory, a machinist shop, a commune and most recently a sign studio.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.

Photographer / Multimedia Editor

Has been working as a photojournalist since 2007, before moving into newspapers, he worked with an NGO called Project HOPE. He then went to work for the Press and Sun-Bulletin in New York, and then in New England working for the Brattleboro Reformer.