HAVERHILL — A four-story brick building across from the Garibaldi Club on Washington Street that has been vacant for years is poised for a major renovation.

The project will include a restaurant and apartments intended to serve commuters looking to live in a vibrant, urban setting, city officials said.

The building that once housed the Trattoria Al Forno restaurant, one of the few remaining vacant buildings in the western end of downtown, will come back to life with the project.

The same development group that transformed the former Surplus Office Supply building at 37 Washington St. into JM Lofts, containing market rate housing and ground-floor retail space that includes Battle Grounds Coffee Company, hopes to begin renovations to the Rugg Building at 87 Washington St. as early as the end of the summer.

David Traggorth of Traggorth Companies of Boston announced the project last fall, and now the project's architect is readying plans.

Like he did when redeveloping the former Surplus Office Supply building, Traggorth plans to use using historic tax credits to help maintain historic characteristics of the building at 87 Washington St.

The architect said it is one of many unique buildings that were built on Washington Street following the Great Fire of 1882.

"These were experimental in design at the time, with facades that are really one of a kind that don't exist anywhere else," said Kevin Deabler, principal and co-founder of RODE Architects Inc. of Boston.

Known as the Rugg Building, it is one of 51 brick buildings built following the Great Fire of 1882 that destroyed dozens of large wooden buildings housing shoe and leather manufacturing businesses.

City officials said the Rugg Building is one of the last vacant buildings along Washington Street to be targeted for redevelopment.

In both of these developments, RODE is working with Traggorth to preserve the history of the buildings, while constructing residential apartments on upper floors and renovating the street level as retail space, the developers said.

A complete report will appear in Friday's Eagle-Tribune.

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