After the Debris Falls: Implosion of the University Plaza Hotel in College Station, Texas

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May 25, 2012
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May 28, 2012

After the Debris Falls: Implosion of the University Plaza Hotel in College Station, Texas

When I woke up on Thursday, May 24th, to watch the University Plaza Hotel implosion, I had expected to drive up to the Bonfire Memorial on Texas A&M Campus. There I would find a remote hill that overlooked the campus’ border tree-line so I could see as much of the building as possible without being caught in the crowds. Things didn’t work out how I had planned.

The streets were blocked off. Traffic was insane. And all of Bryan, College Station had woken up that hour earlier to watch the exciting spectacle. Thousands of city residents lined Texas Avenue, flooded the fields of the Bonfire Memorial, piled upon the beds of pick-ups and roofs of distant houses. Entire families had arrived to watch. I witnessed parents being dragged by excited children, hardly aware of the time or the reason they had driven all this way to fight through the crowd. Students leapt into trees for a better view (only to return to land, discovering the flourishing leaves completely impeded their vision). Droves of individuals, all ages and ethnicities, were flowing forward, as if being pulled to the base of that sight surrounding the Plaza Hotel. And then right at 6:30am, the crowds came to a halt. Everyone found their respective position, and all eyes gazed up. Nobody wanted to miss the spectacle set to start right at that moment.

Of course when 6:42 rolled around I was actually watching a triad of kids pushing and tackling one another in the manicured grass, rooting for the smaller child in a dragon-flame black hoodie. Then the cannon shot ripped through the air like victory at Kyle Field. It echoed along the silent, expectant streets of College Station, grabbing the attention of every onlooker. Then another explosion, flashing sparks of light and puffs of debris shooting out along the length of the buildings core. And the whole thing came crashing down.

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It almost looked like dominos set horizontally, collapsing upon one another from one end to the next. The explosion ripped through, and the left side of the structure simply sagged, sending a rippling collapse along the length of its frame. A tower on the right seemed to linger, obdurate, but then receded into the rising haze of dust. And then it was over. Billowing clouds of debris rose steadily into the air, reaching up like wings on either side of where the structure had stood, and then drifting slowly with the morning breeze. A mad rush to beat the traffic ensued immediately after.

Driving by the site thirteen hours later would show little evidence of a recent demolition. You might see a thin, black fence lining the corner of Texas Avenue and University Drive, a large poster reading “Precision Demolition” stretched across its frame. As you passed the length of University, through the cracks of buildings and construction machines you might glimpse a pile of concrete rubble about two stories tall, weighing heavily on the earth. No outside clutter, no stray blocks of concrete littering the surrounding streets or sidewalks. Just a clean, perfectly orchestrated  implosion, designed by none other than College Station’s own civil engineers.

So what happens next?

First of all, the engineers are going to have to remove all demolished materials and debris, amounting to over 70,000 tons. Fortunately, this is not going to end up as wasteful as might be expected. Veronica Morgan, a leading Engineer of the Plaza Hotel demolition project, was quoted saying, “It’s not going to the landfill. It is not all garbage.” In fact, the materials from the Plaza Hotel are intended to be recycled. And that same concrete and asphalt is going to be used right here, in the Bryan, College Station area.

The materials are being sent to Brazos Paving, Inc. who plans to use the concrete and asphalt into usable road materials, after being finely crushed. So the same concrete that served as the walls and frame of the building which blemished your beautiful city skyline might now be the very material you drive over every day commuting to work along Highway 21(or at least once in awhile when you make a trip to Austin). Appropriate? I’d say so.

Civil Engineer Veronica Morgan informed the public that it might take a few weeks to remove the material from the implosion. However, there appears to be no rush since the future plans for this site of prime city real estate is still unclear. KBTX stated simply that the demolition is making way for “a new development at Texas Avenue and University Drive.” Similar ambiguous accounts make it clear that the future for this potentially thriving business location has not been released: but city officials have made clear their priority of converting this pivotal location to a development with promising economic returns. There has been speculation of student housing, a food and business market area, as well as additional bars or nightclubs. Whatever the future holds, let us hope the developers will find greater success than the locations previous owner.

PS – Susan Hilton is Bryan College Station, Texas’ real estate specialist in foreclosure sales and real estate agent career building so if you need help – CALL! 979-219-3970


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