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Brockton will soon lose 1890 building after all

Developers at Trinity Financial had hoped to preserve the 122-year-old brick structure.

City of Brockton

Developers at Trinity Financial had hoped to preserve the 122-year-old brick structure.

A historic Brockton building that developers wanted to save as the centerpiece of a $100 million neighborhood redevelopment effort is coming down after all, officials said.

Developers at Boston-based Trinity Financial have decided to demolish the Gardner Building on Centre Street, just two months after meeting a city-imposed July 1 deadline for a plan to save it.

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The 122-year-old unreinforced brick structure had partially collapsed but was part of a proposal to convert a full city block bordered by Centre, Montello, and Main streets and Petronelli Way into 215 apartments, commercial space, retail businesses, and a 325-space parking garage.

Two engineering reports in two years had recommended the Gardner, a former factory built in 1890 that once housed Cape Cod Apparel, a women’s clothing company during the city’s booming industrial heyday, be razed, but Trinity officials believed it could be saved.

On Tuesday, during a meeting with the Brockton Planning Board, project manager Kenan Bigby admitted it is too expensive to preserve and rehabilitate the building and, after already spending $1.7 million on safety improvements, the plan now is to tear the structure down and put up something in its place.

“It just got to the point where the cost to shore it up and rehabilitate would be outstripping our historical resources,’’ Bigby said in a phone interview.

The company must now hand back $600,000 in state historical tax credits. Still, Bigby said, the new building will reflect architectural elements of the Gardner site and will push forward the greater vision of the large-scale city rehab plan.

Brockton Building Commissioner James Casieri has called for the Gardner’s demolition for several years. “I’m relieved they will finally remove this danger to public safety by the time the winter comes,’’ he said.

Mayor Linda Balzotti said she is disappointed the building can’t be saved. But, she said, the Trinity project will be a catalyst for breathing life back into Brockton’s downtown area.

The city’s shopping area has been in decline since its retail establishments moved out three decades ago, she said. “This will change the face of the city. . . . And, hopefully, by sometime next spring or summer, they will be breaking ground,” she said.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@live.com.
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