Demolition of Palm Coast High-Rise

Demolition Contractor:  Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc.
Demolition Project Overview: A hurricane-damaged 30-story tower and the largest residential building in the state of Florida - at the time - is taken down by implosion.  
Demolition Project
Couer d'Alene, Idaho's Eric and Lisa Kelly, owners of Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc. (AED) - a National Demolition Association member - brought down a hurricane-damaged 30-story tower in West Palm Beach, FL for The BG Group, a demolition contracting firm. Built in 1974, the tower was, at that time, the tallest residential building in the state of Florida.

Twice damaged in recent hurricanes, the structure, which had water intrusion problems, broken windows and exterior panel loss, had been unoccupied for more than five years as the owners decided whether to rehab the structure or rebuild on the site.

The BG Group of nearby Boca Raton, FL actually began preparatory work on the structure in spring 2009. Work was temporarily halted to facilitate asbestos abatement and resumed in the summer.  The company erected a 165-ton lattice crane to remove three large rooftop air conditioning units.

The BG Group's 10-12 man crew began to strip out all 29 floors, removing all the wood doors, sheetrock, kitchen cabinetry, and bathroom fixtures, clearing each floor to the frames and studs.  Local charitable organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Jay Ministries and the Salvation Army benefited as the BG Group provided them with sixty appliances such as dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators and water heaters from the building.

Neighbors of 1515 S. Flagler were very excited about the approaching implosion as was the City of West Palm Beach since the building had lain fallow for five years, driving property values down and aesthetically impacting the area.

The Mayor and city government of West Palm Beach proved grateful "partners" in the demolition, facilitating the work wherever they could. Doug Wise and other staff from the city's Construction Services Department were most helpful during the entire project.

AED's Eric Kelly designated over 2,400 bore hole sites which The BG Group's team drilled in preparation for the placement of 1,290 lbs of Unimax dynamite explosives on floors:

  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • 6th
  • 18th
  • 23rd

The BG Group's team also saw-cut the shear walls and columns in preparation for the shot. Universal Engineering Services, Inc. from Lake Worth, FL performed the pre-blast survey and seismic monitoring for the implosion.

AED's three-man team loaded the entire structure in just four days, working 15-hour days to meet The BG Group's schedule.

One of the most challenging aspects of both the pre-implosion preparatory demolition work and the actual shot was the size of building's plot. Neighboring structures were less than 142 feet to its north, 119 feet to its south and 191 feet to the building's seawall. AED was going to have to have the 279-foot tall tower "sit-down" on itself, falling in one big pile within its original footprint.

At exactly 9:12 AM on Valentine's Day 2010, 14-year-old Kendall Greenberg, daughter of The BG Group partner Steve Greenberg, and "future blaster" 5-year-old Eliya Joy Kelly, Eric and Lisa Kelly's daughter, jointly "pushed the button" which brought 1515 S. Flagler down in one beautiful pile of debris ready for The BG Group to process for recycling.

The construction equipment used by the BG Group were a CAT 345 and two 330 excavators as well as a Komatsu 330 and 400 to munch through the concrete and rebar, expecting over 750 loads of recyclable to be generated from the site.

Demolition contractor Steve Greenberg said, "AED did an absolutely wonderful job, delivering exactly as they promised. The building came down precisely where Eric Kelly said it would."

1515 S. Flagler's owner, the Trinity Development from New York City, is planning to build a $150 million condominium structure, The Modern, on the site, much to the delight of the neighbors and the City of West Palm Beach.

Information from this article was first published inDemolition Magazine and is being reused with permission from the National Demolition Association.

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