Glass Means Progress

Glass, and busy work crews, signal progress at two previously stalled building projects bringing new life to two corners of the west side of town.The first is the $40 million renovation of the old Beecher School on Blake Street in Beaver Hills.

As at other lovingly restored buildings in the city's $1.5 billion school reconstruction program, the better-built original brick building (circa 1913, in photo at left) will remain standing, albeit gutted and spiffed up, while mid-century slapdash additions have gone to their merciful graves to be replaced with brand-new wings (top photo). The new 90,740-square foot K-8 school, with expanded parking and field spaces, should be done by year's end, and kids should return there from their temporary Valley Street space next April, after mastery tests are done, according to school reconstruction chief Sue Weisselberg. (She cautioned that she needs to revisit those plans with Beecher's brand-new principal, Kathy Russell.) The new school was originally supposed to be ready this summer; unanticipated delays in a state environmental flood plain permitting process held it up.

Long-awaited glass has finally arrived on the ground floor of the nine new artist lofts going up at the juncture of West Rock Avenue, Fountain Street, and Whalley Avenue in Westville Village. Delivery of the wrong windows, among other delays and some controversy, put that state-funded project -- which offers artists both living and gallery space in the same spot -- considerably behind schedule. Finally, Mutual Housing, the $5.3 million government-backed project's not-for-profit developer, parted ways with the general contractor and took over construction management itself. The six lofts in these buildings should be done by Sept. 15, with artists moving in Oct. 1, according to Mutual Housing chief Seila Mosquera. There will also be three ground-floor storefronts. Mosquera reported some "potential interest" by retailers.

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