December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Former pizzeria flattened like a pizza

HIGH SPEED DEMOLITION

REAL-TIME DEMOLITION

ELYRIA — A demolition crew on Thursday tackled the job of tearing down a dilapidated pizza parlor at Sixth Street and Middle Avenue to make room for what will be the new Elyria High School.

BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE
Elyria High School students watch from school windows as a former pizza shop is razed Thursday in Elyria.

Each time the heavy claw of the earthmover hit the building, the sound that escaped was that of crushing walls and breaking glass.

But if you ask the residents who gathered around to watch the show, each thud sounded like progress.

“I can’t wait for more properties to go,” said 24-year-old Crystal Hall. “I think it’s good because it’s important to have the kids in a safe place. And, if that means these eyesores must go, then so be it.”

The home and long-vacant Piccolo Uno Pizza shop are among several dozen properties the school district sought to have enough land to construct the new high school. Properties in the rectangle of Sixth and Seventh streets and West and Middle avenues will be razed to make way for the $68 million project.

“We’re moving along acquiring property and are right on schedule,” said Amy Kren, schools spokeswoman. “Today was just the first glimpse of a new Elyria High School to come.”

The EHS project will take about four years to complete. School officials said they chose to start with the pizza shop because it has become a nuisance in the neighborhood.

BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE
Some neighbors were pleased to see the vacant building that housed the Piccolo Uno Pizza shop and the adjoining vacant house knocked down.

The home and business were not always an eyesore. Years ago, it was the family business and home of Travis Begley and his family.

“It’s weird to be standing here seeing this, because I did a lot of work to that place,” the 20-year-old man said. “It’s interesting seeing a bulldozer go through your old bedroom.”

After several swipes at the building, the demolition paused just as half of Begley’s former bedroom was turned into a heap of debris.

The rest, including the remnants of a drywall partition Begley built to turn his large bedroom into two smaller rooms, waited in a cloud of dust for their last hurrah.

“There are so many memories in this place,” Begley said. “I remember falling asleep upstairs in my father’s office while he did paperwork, and it always smelled of pizza.”

Still, seeing the run-down home go leaves some residents with a sense of relief as the boarded-up buildings have become magnets for seedy behavior and unsavory characters.

“There are a couple of nice houses in this neighborhood we will be sad to see go, but the majority were run-down rentals,” said

Shannon Jesse of Seventh Street. “The boarded-up ones always had criminals hanging out there every day.”

Jesse, a 1993 graduate of Elyria High School, proudly snapped photos as the home came down. As an alumna, she said she voted for every levy put up by the district until one finally passed.

“This is long overdue,” she said. “Even then, the school was in bad shape. I welcome the new school.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.