Beacon Update: What’s happening with 1515 Flagler?

By Eric Quinones
Contributing Writer

It looms over south campus, its windows and walls gaping open, its drywall removed and steel supports exposed.

A major project that should already have commenced, the final demolition of 1515 Flagler Dr. is now on hold. The huge condo, located just south of the Palm Beach Atlantic University campus, was supposed to have come down by Oct. 25. Now, the project could eventually end up being delayed until 2010.

It could also become the main focus of an episode of a television show on The Learning Channel.

The show, which carries a proposed title of “The Imploders,” is set to run as a six-part series and is the brainchild of demolition company Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc. Each episode will be an hour long and show different structures like 1515 Flagler coming down. Three of the six episodes have already been filmed. The show premieres on Dec. 17.

Will the City of West Palm Beach have a problem with this going on?

“I understand that The Learning Channel is in conversations with the developer and the demolition contractor about filming the implosion of the building for a television series,” said Peter Robbins, public information officer with the City of West Palm Beach. “The city is not a part of those negotiations. We will support whatever method of demolition the developer chooses and our only goal remains a safe demolition.”

However, the primary problem of insurance still remains, harrying progress of the demolition.

Trinity Development Group is planning the demolition. However, the group can’t get its demolition permit until it meets a city requirement to buy $50 million in insurance coverage.

This problem is not only frustrating the people who are doing the job, but also neighbors around the tower. Residents of nearby condos and the Towers and Lakeview dormitories of PBA have been face to face with the decrepit building since hurricanes Frances and Jeanne destroyed it in 2004. With the tower still standing, the Palm Beach Daily News recently reported seasonal residents are deciding on whether or not to return this year.

The manner in which the building will be demolished is not yet known. Trinity has enough insurance for a conventional wrecking ball demolition, which requires $20 million of coverage. The City of West Palm Beach would prefer the demolition ball but it would take about a month to complete.

The second way the building could come down is implosion, where explosives experts explode the support columns and the building falls in on itself. This method is shorter than a wrecking ball, taking about a few seconds. But none of this will happen until Trinity applies for a demolition permit.

“We are still waiting for the developer, Trinity, to apply for a demolition permit,” Robbins said. “We have yet to determine the date for any demolition because we are still waiting for the permit application to be made.”

However, despite the city’s input, the final say on the method of demolition comes down to the developer. Trinity has until Dec. 18 to complete the project, but the city commission could possibly grant another extension if needed.

“The possibility of a documentary doesn’t change anything from the City’s perspective; our goal is to get the building down safely and make sure that all appropriate requirements are met,” Robbins said.

Stay tuned for continuing updates on 1515 Flagler and a possible upcoming demolition date.

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