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Old St. Edward's Lower School turned into rubble

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS, (Week of January 24, 2013)
Photo: Old St. Ed's lower school reduced to rubble.

The substantial Mediterranean revival buildings that once housed St. Edwards Lower School have been reduced to rubble as Proctor Construction subcontractor Berg Demolition clears the site that will become Old Oaks, a 10-home subdivision developer George Heaton has been trying to get off the ground since 2010.

Built in 1929 as the clubhouse for Riomar Country Club, the buildings were converted to an elementary and middle school when St. Edwards was founded in the 1960s. Several generations of Vero Beach students were educated there before the campus fell victim to school budget problems.  After all grades were consolidated at St. Ed’s south beach campus, the old lower school buildings sat empty and bank-owned for two years.

The Vero Beach City Council approved a preliminary site plan for the project in October. Acting as Old Oak Lane LLC, Heaton closed on the property later in the fall and Proctor began internal demolition in December.

Proctor project manager Bill Nutty said his crews removed toxic material, such as florescent lights, and saved clocks, cypress beams and tile so people who buy lots in the subdivision can incorporate the historic material into their new homes, maintaining a slender link with the past.

“It wasn’t easy getting those beams out of there,” Nutty said ruefully.

Exterior demolition began the first week in January and will be substantially complete by the end of the month, according to a Berg Demolition employee.  Workers are steering their heavy equipment carefully around the centuries-old oak trees on the property that give the subdivision its name.

Heaton said none of the trees, which can live as long as 400 years, will be destroyed. Instead they will be relocated to create a sleepy southern ambiance in keeping with the rest of Old Riomar.

“We will move 11 or 12 of the largest trees to create a canopy over the central shell road,” Heaton said. That canopied cul-de-sac will be the only road in the subdivision, serving all 10 houses.

Nutty said site preparation work should be done by early summer.

Like the rest of neighborhood, the 5.5-acre site on Club Drive is zoned R1-AA, which permits homes as large as 6,600 square feet to be built on the approximately half-acre lots Heaton is creating.

Finished lots will range from 19,000 to 22,000 square feet. Most back up to the Riomar Country Club golf course. They will be priced from $795,000 to $1,295,000, according to Heaton.