Groundbreaking marks fresh start one year after Bedford Middle School fire

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

BEDFORD, Va. (WFXR) — A cleansing rain on Monday morning welcomed a new start for the old Bedford Middle School.

A groundbreaking at the site marked the start of the redevelopment of the landmark which, just a year ago, was nearly completely destroyed by a fire. Daniel Flint is charged with setting that fire.

Saturday, Jan. 23, marked one year to the day since that fire.

“To be a part of the new life of this thing is a huge honor,” said Dave McCormack, President of Waukeshaw Development, the company behind the project. “So you could imagine how devastating it was when I go that call at 3:30 in the morning that this was on fire.”

“Just heartbreaking,” he said, “but you also have this hope that it’s not going to be as bad as it could be, and then you watch and wait, and it just gets worse and worse so that day was just absolutely horrible.”

Most of the building was destroyed and the cupola collapsed.

Now, a year after the fire, town officials are looking forward to the building’s next chapter.

“Today is the day that we’ve been waiting for,” said Bedford Mayor Tim Black. “The day when life is going to start, begin being put back into these buildings.”

The groundbreaking was the symbolic start of an 18-month redevelopment project.

“At the end of it, you will see that roof and…the cupola back on that building, and it will look like it did before that fire started,” said McCormack.

In the year since the fire, McCormack has expressed, in interviews with WFXR News, the importance of preserving as much of the building’s façade as possible, recognizing its importance to the community.

Once complete, the old middle school will become a 60 bedroom apartment complex. The building next door will be a 34-room boutique hotel with a ballroom.

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