Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 7, 2012

Scott Street Parking Garage coming down

BLUEFIELD — The sounds of jackhammers on concrete and the beeping of construction equipment echoed through downtown Bluefield Monday as construction crews began the demolition of the Scott Street Parking Garage.

Though no heavy machinery has been moved into the area, the sounds of demolition going on inside the building could be heard. Residents like Earl Stillwell, 85, said he could hear the noises from inside his apartment at West Virginia Manor.

“I’ve been watching the progress on it,” Stillwell said. “I can hear the jackhammering going on when I’m inside. I’ll probably keep an eye on things as they take the building down. I think it will be better when they take it down. It’s just empty, just sitting there. A lot of my neighbors are going to watch it go down, too.”

John Gearheart, 66, also lives in West Virginia Manor and could hear the noise from the demolition.

“It’s made a lot of noise,” Gearheart said. “I live on the 11th floor and can still hear it with my windows closed. A lot of people in the building are handicapped and think the demolition is just going to be an inconvenience. I don’t know what they’re hoping to make over there once it’s finished, but the building is an eyesore. I’d like to see something besides parking go in its place, maybe like a small shopping complex.”

Eddie Moricle, 75, lives in West Virginia Manor but said he wasn’t able to hear the sounds of construction from his residence.

“I’m on the far side, so I haven’t heard it,” Moricle said. “I don’t know why it took them so long to take it down. It’s been closed for six years. They might as well take it down since they tear everything down in this town. They’re experts at tearing things down, but not bringing things in, which is what they really need to be worried about. Before long, Princeton and Bluefield, Va., are going to take this area over.”

Vince Collins, who owns Vince’s Diner at the corner of Scott Street and Federal Street, said many customers were talking about the beginning of the demolition.

“I can’t hear it in here; you have to go outside to hear it,” he said. “A few customers have mentioned it. They are sort of split on whether or not the garage coming down is a bad thing. We all think they need better people who know how to run businesses and bring businesses in making decisions. There is basically no business in downtown Bluefield. We do need more parking so more people can stop and go shopping downtown, which would generate revenue and more businesses to locate here. I don’t think taking down the garage will impact business one way or another since business is already so slow. We need customers and there is hardly any business here.”

Interim City Manager and Bluefield City Attorney Brian Cochran said the demolition will be the quickest part of the project.

“They are in there doing some jackhammering now to get started in the middle of the building,” Cochran said. “I don’t know all the logistics of how they are getting it down. They are starting now and once they get the hole knocked out through the middle, they will get started with the heavier stuff. The demolition won’t take as long as getting the retaining walls built and the area repaved, which will probably go up to January.”

Dave Graham, senior project manager for Swope Construction, said demolition on the garage should take approximately six weeks. Following that, crews will be working to reconstruct portions of Edwards Terrace.

“What they are doing right now is making penetrations through each floor to drop material as they demolish it through the center of the building,” Graham said. “Then they will be hauling material out from the building. We have the area barricaded now. It is not going to be an explosive demolition situation but more like the other one that was brought down by using large equipment with grapplers and hammers and taking it down piece by piece. Demolition is going to a be about a six-week progress.”

Graham said crews are going from the top down on the garage to start the demolition.

“A lot of the demolition work will be from within the building,” Graham said. “They are taking off the top two floors right now since they are structural steel. Then they will get into the actual concrete demolition when they get the top two off, since the bottom floors are all reinforced concrete with very little steel.”

According to Graham, materials from the parking garage will be recycled to save on construction costs.

“They are trying to retain and salvage the metal for scrap,” he said. “We are going to haul the concrete off site so we can reuse it for the retaining wall that will hold Edwards Terrace in place. We have to tear down Edwards Terrace and then rebuild it back. The whole project should be completed by December.”

Though there will be street closures, Graham said the construction crews have the safety of local residents in mind.

“When the time comes, a portion of Scott Street will be closed,” he said. “I believe we will be able to keep entrances open to West Virginia Manor. We are hoping to have Scott Street closed no more than a day and then for a few hours of a day. There will still be public access and emergency access to the manor.

When demolition is finished, a two- or three-tiered retaining wall will be rebuild along with space for approximately 80 parking spaces on the former parking garage site. The project’s estimated completion date is Jan. 1, 2013.

— Contact Kate Coil at

kcoil@bdtonline.com

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