Taylor Burk, 17, of Durand, from second left, Emily Williams, 18, of Otisville, and Jeff Stull, 20, of Durand, react as The Genesee Towers fall during a detonated implosion, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 in downtown Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Jake May)
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Flint’s tallest building collapsed Sunday into a four-story pile of rubble in a controlled implosion designed to make way for a plaza in the heart of the city.
The 19 stories of the long-vacant, 45-year-old Genesee Towers came down after demolition crews set off 1,000 pounds of explosives around the structure.
Videos posted by MLive.com (http://bit.ly/1cejyaw ) show about 10 loud blasts going off, followed by the collapse of the building. Dust billowed out from the site of the tower, which came down within 15 seconds.
“Everything went very well,” said Elaine Redd, a spokeswoman for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “It went better than expected.”
The coverings that crews put up to protect the neighboring buildings and the surrounding streets were covered in brown dust Sunday afternoon. Utility and demolition crew members spend the later part of the day going through the rubble pile. Redd said crews surveyed for possible damage to utilities in the area as a result of the implosion, adding she does not expect they will find any damage.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” City Councilman Joshua Freeman said after watching the blast.
Steve Mintline and Shawntae Harris live in an apartment just outside the evacuation zone.
“We were able to lean out the window and watch the implosion,” Mintline said. “I was a little worried (the building) would lean too far one way or the other, but it came straight down, so it was perfect. They did a great job.”
Uptown Reinvestment Corp. bought the downtown structure from the city for $1. Plans are to transform the site into Exploration Park, a family-friendly plaza with public art and a science theme. It’s part of a larger downtown redevelopment effort in the city of 102,000.
Dave Lurvey, project manager for the demolition, said the cleanup likely will start after the New Year’s holiday. He said crews likely will be at work removing the 28,000 to 32,000 tons of concrete through spring. It will take 800 to 1,000 truckloads to clear the debris, he said.
Streets surrounding the building were closed off ahead of the planned implosion and the University of Michigan-Flint closed its campus for the day.
Flint, about 65 miles northwest of Detroit, is the birthplace of General Motors and once was an auto-making powerhouse. It has struggled for decades with plant closings and population losses. A municipal financial crisis has brought the city under control of a state-appointed emergency financial manager.