Savoy Hotel demolition may take longer

October 3, 2009 8:42:31 PM PDT
Crews are still tearing down the old Savoy Hotel and it could take longer to complete the demolition than previously thought. Areas around the building downtown have been closed off. Piece by piece, brick by brick, the old Savoy building is coming down. Very slowly.

"I guess I thought a little more would be gone this morning when I finally emerged from my apartment," said neighbor Becky Baker.

She and her husband live just one block away where they say could hear the demolition.

"Intermittent giant crashing noises," said Baker. "I probably look like I haven't gotten any sleep."

Workers have been taking turns around the clock since late Friday, pulling apart these walls carefully.

"Anytime you're demolishing a building that's already structurally unsound, you can't predict what's gonna happen," said Cherry Construction Manager Mike Dokell.

By Sunday afternoon, they expect to clear Main Street allowing the road to reopen and Metrorail service to resume. But Dokell says it will take two to three weeks to finish the job.

"I'm satisfied with the progress we've made," said Dokell.

The Bakers meanwhile seem to be focusing on the positive, that soon the building they've long considered an eyesore will be gone.

"We've been watching that crack for so long, so we were pretty happy when we heard they were gonna go ahead and do something about it," said Becky Baker.

The demolition has interrupted Metro light rail service this weekend, but it should be back up and running by 4am Monday morning. Metro says up to 4,000 people ride that portion by the old Savoy on the weekends. Metro removed about 300 feet of cable and a couple of posts to make room for the cranes.

Demolition started Friday night

Crews will begin bringing down an old hotel Friday night that's been a part of downtown Houston for more than 100 years.

The old Savoy Hotel is on Main near Pease. The city says it's unsafe and has become a danger.

The demolition will start just after midnight Friday night. The old Savoy Hotel sits right next to the new hotel, which will remain. The two buildings are joined by a common lobby, but demolition crews say the new hotel will not be damaged during the demolition process of the old hotel.

The older building has been deemed structurally unsound and is in such bad shape that the walls are actually pulling apart more and more each day. The building was inspected just a few hours ago to make sure that there were no people inside.

The Main Street light rail line will be shut down during the demolition. Environmental officials will set up air monitoring stations around the demolition site to detect any asbestos that might blow through the air. To keep that to a minimum, the site will be watered down.

Some bystanders seemed a little disappointed when we told them the old hotel wasn't going to be blown up, but workers say that the slow, knocking in of the walls is still a very dangerous proposition because of the shape the building is in and the fact that the new, larger hotel is just 25 feet away from the demolition.

"The difficulty is trying to predict how the building will react as you start to bring it down. There is always that possibility, but the risk to the high-rise building next door is less than the other sites," said Leonard Cherry of Cherry Demolition.

The city says the building cannot stand and would probably fall on its own anyway, but they are going to give it a lot of help beginning at midnight Friday night.

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