NORWAY — The owner of the Odd Fellows Building on Main Street said Thursday that work on the historic structure is on hold temporarily, in part because of problems with the Opera House nearby.

“I think it’s a huge, huge setback,” said Harvey Solomon, whose building sits east of the Opera House and separated by a narrow alley.

Solomon, along with his wife, Dawn, of New Horizon Capital Investment in Norway, purchased the building last year for $63,500 from Northeast Bank in Lewiston, which held the mortgage. The pair hope to renovate it for commercial and residential space, but fear that the Opera House could collapse on it. A fire at another of his properties in Norway had already delayed the Odd Fellows building project.

Solomon said he has had no contact with Barry Mazzaglia, owner of the Opera House, but he is concerned with the impact the Opera House is having, and could have, on his own project.

“We’ll wait and see what happens to the Opera House,” Solomon said Thursday. “It looks like it’s going to fall. We don’t want to put a lot of money into it (Odd Fellows Building) yet. We’re just kind of waiting to see.”

A portion of the Opera House roof collapsed on Sept. 21, 2007, under the weight of water pooled on the sagging roof. The collapse severed a sprinkler pipe, which flooded two first-floor businesses. Two engineering studies have deemed the structure to be “unsafe to the public and neighboring property.”

Built in 1894 with bricks, the historic three-story edifice with its imposing clock tower is in the heart of the downtown area and inside the National Historic District of the village. The upper floors have been vacant for decades; the first floor since the collapse, except for Woodman’s sporting goods store which moved across the street last spring.

The town was granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction last month to force Mazzaglia to take steps to stabilize his building.

Solomon and his crew had been working on the Odd Fellows Building’s infrastructure and were hoping to have the facade completed by next winter. The work includes construction of walls from the basement to the third floor, replacement of some of the crumbling interior brick wall and new electrical service.

Solomon said his crew is now working full time at 24 Cottage St. to rebuild an apartment building that burned down in December of last year. There will be four, three-bedroom apartments when it’s done. A waiting list of renters has already formed, he said.

Meanwhile, one worker is still completing concrete work at the Odd Fellows Building. Solomon hopes work will start up full time again this winter.

While the Odd Fellows Building is not completed, Solomon said he could finish the first floor within six weeks if someone wanted to rent it.

The basement and first floor were constructed in 1894 after a fire destroyed most of downtown. The second and third floors were added in 1911. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the historic downtown district. The interior, which once housed the district court, a jail and other businesses, has been gutted. Only the floors remain.

When he purchased the building, Solomon said he hoped to have something like a high-scale restaurant on the first floor, offices in the second floor and apartments or even condominiums on the third floor.

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