April 21, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
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Crews begin careful destruction of former Elyria City Hall

ELYRIA — In a narrow space roughly the width of a downtown sidewalk Wednesday, two excavators chewed away at the facade of the old Elyria City Hall.

The demolition of the old department store-turned-municipal building was a long time coming after it was condemned by the city’s chief building inspector in 2012. But when crews started the work early in the day, it brought a lot of people out who wanted to snap a few pictures and marvel at the work being done so close to moving traffic on Broad Street.

“You know I had a lot of guys champing at the bit to get in there to train, but I couldn’t let them in,” Fire Chief Rich Benton said.

Typically, when a city building is scheduled for demolition, the Fire Department will use the site as a training facility, but the condition of the old building proved to be too hazardous. Benton, who inspected the building several months ago to ascertain its structural integrity, long worried the building would collapse if it was not razed.

“The roof decking and floor decking were all rotting away,” Benton said.

The building has been decimated by water, mold and mildew since city officials abandoned the building for new digs in 2006.

City Engineer Tim Ujvari said the demolition will take at least a week. Crews can’t take the building down in a sweeping move. A systematic approach is needed because the building shares walls with adjacent buildings on the east and west.

The walls will have to remain to keep the other buildings intact, Ujvari said.

“As a part of the contract, an engineer had to submit a demolition agreement outlining how the building will be brought down, and so far so good,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the process from the adjacent buildings just to make sure nothing is going on. It’s going to be slower than normal, but in this case it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Ujvari said the street will not be closed to traffic during the demolition, but there will be some delays at times.

Once the building comes down, workers will waterproof the exposed walls.

Nick Chlepciak, who owns 322 Broad St., where the JC Insurance Agency is, said he was happy to see the building go. He watched from across the street and snapped pictures with a camera as the building crumbled.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.