White Hall’s days are numbered
Asbestos removal begins; demolition to take place within next few weeks
Asbestos removal has begun on the hulking, scarred remains of White Hall in downtown Grand Junction.
Demolition will occur in a couple of weeks on the historic structure at 600 White Ave., according to Grand Junction city officials.
White Hall was gutted after a fire swept through early on the morning of Sept. 15, 2011, but its 10,000-square-foot eastern end was largely untouched. That portion of the building will not be torn down.
The city took ownership of the property in May after the former owner, Rosemarie Glas, didn’t follow through with plans to demolish it.
Asbestos removal and demolition costs will cost the city $313,650. The city has received an $85,000 grant to assist with abatement costs. After the building is demolished, the city will deed the land over to the Downtown Development Authority.
Much of the delay in dealing with the downtown eyesore has been to the comply with the state’s regulations on asbestos removal, city Engineering Manager Trent Prall said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment determined that the building did not need to be tented to remove asbestos, he said.
“There’s not that much volume of asbestos, just enough to require all the regulations to kick in,” Prall said.
Asbestos mainly is contained in plastic material shrouding a boiler in the basement, an area that did not burn, Prall said. A larger concentration of asbestos is in the building’s eastern portion that was built in the 1950s, but that area does not need mitigation because it isn’t being altered, he said.
Englewood-based Hudspeth & Associates will complete the asbestos removal.
Prall said the demolition will involve track hoes tearing apart the inside of the sanctuary. A wrecking ball or implosion is not practical because workers don’t want to spread dust from the demolition, he said.
After work is completed, the DDA will launch into a redevelopment effort, Executive Director Harry Weiss said.
That may mean developing a project idea and executing it or selling the land to a developer who has an amenable plan for the site.
Weiss said one of the DDA’s main goals is to infill the downtown core with housing, but it could be a combination of housing and office space, or any other idea.
“It could be live/work (project) or we could make a small portion of it traditional retail,” Weiss said. “Other things that might work well would be a relationship with the Business Incubator (Center) or artists’ studio. Everything is on the table. We’ll see.”
Weiss said the most important aspect of the project is getting the site’s new use “privately held and on the tax rolls.”
“We’ll solicit people’s input,” he said. “Ultimately, I think it will be a different conversation than people have seen the DDA do in downtown. My only concern is we want to have a lot of flexibility how we go forward with it.”