ASHLAND, KY (WOWK) — The downtown skyline in Ashland may be looking a little different in the upcoming months, as efforts get underway to bring down a seven-story building right in the heart of downtown.
13 News got a look inside the structure Wednesday. City officials say it will be no small feat to demolish the building, which was formerly the ‘Ashland Oil’ building on Winchester Avenue; however, officials say what they put in its place will be important for the city of Ashland.
“What you’re looking at is the former Ashland Oil building. We took possession of this building a couple of years ago for basically a dollar,” says Michael Graese, city manager for Ashland, Kentucky.
The last tenants here moved out in October of 2012, and now the city wants to bring it down, effectively tearing out the old and replacing it with a new convention center and parking garage.
“I think that anything that we do, for Ashland, we should think future, and it should bring money in for us,” says Clarinda Falcone, who lives in Ashland.
That’s the goal for the convention center and garage, but first, the seven-story building needs to come down.
During what may be one of the last looks at the interior, officials detail how this will be no easy task.
Experts say to demolish a building of this size they have to collapse it from the inside floor by floor—and there are some special considerations they have to put in place because of the asbestos risk to the public.
“We’ll block off the sidewalk portion of Winchester Avenue, and we’ll also block off the entire width of 14th Street, and then the alleyway that’s in the back of the building so that will be our controlled zone for the project. There will be monitoring outside of the building within the confines of that perimeter to evaluate the amount of asbestos that may become a particulate substance that’s in the air,” says Steven Cole, city engineer for Ashland.
In addition to that, they will have to monitor ground vibrations as the demolition occurs, so that older structures in the area don’t get damaged in the process.
Sharon Furches, who works across the street and has asthma, says she’ll probably elect to work remotely when that day comes.
“The town I think is doing a good job on letting us know the possibilities, the dangers, so if we know that it’s going to be during these days, or during this time period we can make plans…” Furches says.
The contract to take it down is just shy of $2.5 million dollars; plus, the city is working on getting a $1 million dollar Abandoned Mine Land Grant to be used for the engineering and design of this project.
According to Cole, if all goes to plan at Thursday and Friday’s city commission meetings, there could be construction activity happening in the downtown area as early as 60 to 90 days past Friday.