New Orleans Hotel imploded to make way for new University Medical Center

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 12:15pm

Early risers in Downtown New Orleans woke up to a huge boom Sunday morning. The state imploded the Pallas Hotel also known as the Grand Palace Hotel.

Demolition crews took under ten seconds to turn an old hotel into a heap of rumble.

The State of Louisiana imploded the hotel to pave way for part of the new University Medical Center in New Orleans.

"That buildings been a blight on the city for a long time,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “To have it come down to make way for a medical complex which is going to be the economic development anchor for the city. It's just spectacular. "

Before the blast Christina Stephens with the state division of administration told NBC33 the demolition details took months to plan. One big concern was protecting the interstate running along side the hotel.

"This implosion is set up so that it falls away from the interstate,” said Stephens. “So, there is a back wall that actually is going to crush a lot of the building as it goes down."

Stephens released in a later statement:

“Bridge inspectors from the Department of Transportation and Development surveyed Interstate 10, which was closed for the morning, and cleared the bridge to be opened. The Interstate is now reopened in both directions, after light dust was removed.

South Claiborne Avenue remains closed from Canal to Cleveland as crews work to remove debris from the area. South Claiborne bordered the site of the former hotel, and officials expected some debris would fall on South Claiborne.”

Crews brought in close to 400 pounds of explosives for the job placing them in about 1300 sites along the building. Stephens says implosion was the most efficient way to flatten the structure.

"It would have taken probably a year and a half to manually take it apart,” said Stephens. “You would have had increased dust over the course of a year and half. It actually would have been more costly."

The City of New Orleans issued an evacuation order for people living 600 feet away from the hotel.

Stephens said around 200 residents were evacuated, and The state housed 126 residents and six pets in hotels overnight.

Parts of the interstate were also shut down during the implosion and clean up.

"Just getting rid of that ugly building was just spectacular to watch," said Mayor Landrieu.

Mayor Landrieu says the university medical center will help bring more money and better healthcare to all of Louisiana.

"First of all it's going to be a great anchor for medical research and medical care and information technology going forward,” said Landrieu. “It's going to be a huge economic anchor for the whole state."

Stephens estimates the cost of the demolition project is roughly four million dollars.

Constructions crews will spend the next several months cleaning up the site and recycling some of the debris.

The state has established a hotline for residents with questions or concerns about the implosion. It can be accessed this weekend on Sunday, July 22 from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling (855) 592-8146.

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