Redevelopment of old Bedford Middle School reaching milestone near one-year anniversary of fire

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

BEDFORD, Va. (WFXR) — Saturday marks one year since a fire ripped through the old Bedford Middle School building.

Bedford Police arrested a former student less than a month later, who they say broke into the school and set it on fire.

It all started around 3 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2020. That is when firefighters responded to the school fire.

Flames raged throughout the rest of that day and some reignited later that night, even after the Bedford Fire Department deemed it under control.

No one was hurt but there was significant damage, including blown out windows, burns and a tower collapsing that stood over the middle of the building.

With the help of surveillance cameras, police arrested 21-year-old Daniel Jared Flint by mid-February 2020 and charged him with arson and burglary.

Flint is expected to appear in court again on Monday, Jan. 25.

A lot of people who live in the town say they were devastated when they heard about the fire because of the building’s rich history.

The old middle school was also once the Bedford High School, which is the same place where the Bedford Boys went to school.

The Bedford Boys are 19 young men who were killed during the first minutes of D-Day during World War II.

They were members of “Company A,” the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division.

The campus is now being redeveloped and the company doing the work wanted to respect the buildings’ history instead of tearing them all down.

“We really appreciate and love being stewards of those buildings,” said Dave McCormack, the president of Waukeshaw Development. “We really respect the trust we’ve been given to bring them back to life. I hope to think that we are contributing in that way and partnering in that way.”

McCormack says workers are able to move forward with their vision to refurbish several buildings on the campus.

Some of the challenges they encountered because of the fire included starting from scratch after their preliminary work was destroyed.

According to Waukeshaw Development, the old middle school building will become a 60-apartment complex building.

The yellow structure that stands next to it will be converted into a 34-room boutique hotel with a ballroom.

McCormack hopes the redevelopment of the buildings brings new life to the community.

“We’ve seen the people’s love for the place,” he said. “We’re trying to make a contribution or an additional contribution to draw more people to the area and to Bedford. I think that would further then support the restaurant industry there and hopefully be a catalytic project for others to create businesses downtown.”

The gymnasium and cafeteria are expected to remain and used for the same purposes, but will be remodeled.

A big step is happening on Monday as Waukeshaw Development is ceremoniously breaking ground on the property.

McCormack says if construction stays on schedule, the project will be complete by summer of 2022.

According the the company, the redevelopment costs $17 million.

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