MANSFIELD — The town expects to be rid of what is probably the biggest eyesore in town in the coming months.
The 1.3-acre site of the dilapidated former Paine School, a century-old building at the corner of Chauncy Street (Route 106) and Copeland Drive, has been vacant for years but is being eyed for redevelopment.
Chase Bank wants to put a wealth management facility on the corner of the property with an ATM machine in the parking lot. It would anchor a commercial development planned by a Rhode Island developer trying to buy the site.
Calling it a “long-awaited project,” Town Manager Kevin Dumas recently told the select board the developers hope to break ground in the spring.
“It’s something we’re really looking forward to to redevelop the area. It’s one of the gateways into downtown,” Dumas said. “This is going to be such a refreshed look and appearance to this intersection that we all know we want so badly. This is something to really look forward to in 2022, right around the corner.”
Select board Chair Neil Rhein expressed hope the plans don’t fall by the wayside as others for the property have over the years.
“I know everyone’s happy about that,” Rhein said of the latest plans. “That’s a tough intersection already. If we ended up with a fast food business, that would be a problem. I’ll be happy to see the bulldozers.”
The property, which is zoned for business, also hosts the former medical office building of two retired physicians who own the site. That building would also be razed.
Plans are expected to go before the planning board in the next several weeks.
The old school building has boarded-up windows and a hole in its roof, and looks like it belonged in post-WWII Europe. It’s been vacant for about two decades.
Dating to 1925, the building has long ceased being a school.
During the 1980s, the town began using itas an annex for town hall, with the planning and other departments housed there.
The town sold the structure after all departments were brought under one roof at the present town hall in the late 1990s.
Since then, though, the building has fallen into disrepair.