Local residents lined a fenced-off section of Pleasant Street Monday afternoon, watching in amazement as a crane continued to lower into place the steel beams that will be the foundation of the new Warwick Building.
Now that the frame of the 38,000-square-foot building is taking shape, David Groom, co-owner of the Salem-based Groom Construction Co., said construction is "off to the races."
"It took us longer than we thought it would to start building upward," Groom said Monday. "We dealt with some difficult soil conditions at the site but now it should move along quickly."
Groom said construction of the new building is "well on schedule" to be completed and ready for tenants before the end of 2012.
The building is being operated by the Warwick Realty Trust and will occupy the space where the former Warwick Theater and several surrounding buildings used to be.
To allow for the building, the town is expected to replace the blinking traffic light at School and Pleasant streets with a full traffic-control light to handle the increased number of vehicles.
When the building was approved by the town's Zoning Board of Appeals last spring, the most prominent prospective tenant was a new movie house with two 100-seat theaters for which the Warwick Theater Community Foundation is trying to raise more than $1 million to build.
The building is also designed to include a restaurant. The design calls for a largely brick building with the three-story portion being near the bookstore and the one-story portion being closer to Anderson Street.
The approved design features more set-backs for the upper floors and may be powered by geo-thermal energy and thermal panels on the roof.