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Historic trolley barn comes tumbling down
What many consider one of Rhode Island's most majestic buildings is coming down. Demolition began Tuesday on the brick-and-granite trolley barn on Cranston Street, and the razing of the 105-year-old landmark is expected to be completed by the end of next week.
There are no plans yet for the site.
The building's fate had been in question since a fire on May 3 caused minor damage and spotlighted it as a safety hazard. Four teenagers were charged with starting the blaze.
After the fire, Building Official Kerry Anderson cited the trolley barn as an unsafe structure, meaning it either had to be better secured or demolished. The owner, Paolino Properties, decided to raze the building, Anderson said.
The building was built in 1900 as a trolley storehouse, and later became a warehouse for the neighboring Narragansett Brewery, which closed in 1981. The brewery complex has been replaced with a development including stores, restaurants and the Katherine Gibbs School.
A series of prospective tenants had flirted with occupying the trolley barn for years.
"You lose a little bit of your history when you lose a building like that," said City Planner Kevin Flynn, who said the city has tried for years to entice tenants with tax breaks.
"I understand it's necessary. We had the building up as long as we could. It's just sad to me," he said.
The 108,000-square-foot structure sits on about 6.9 acres. Paolino Properties had most recently offered the property for a police station, but that option was rejected. The station will be built on another Paolino property, across the street.
"The razing of the trolley barn rids the city of a major safety concern," said Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.
Laffey said that the new police station in the neighborhood adds to the likelihood that the site will be used for economic development.
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