Progress. That’s what Steven Folks, Anniston's city manager, said about the demolition of the former City Hall on Gurnee Avenue, which began Wednesday morning.
“It just shows the progress of Anniston ... this is the vision we talked about years ago,” Folks said.
The old City Hall building is being demolished so the site can house a new federal courthouse, which is expected to be complete in the fall of 2021.
“Now you see it. It’s going to happen, and other great things are going to happen in Anniston,” said Folks.
The old Anniston city hall building was being demolished on Wednesday to make room for a new federal courthouse. pic.twitter.com/fCnkoAxknM— Bill Wilson (@bwilson_star) November 27, 2019
In exchange for the old City Hall property, the federal government plans to give the city its existing courthouse at the corner of 12th and Noble streets. In the meantime, city offices have moved to vacant space in the McClellan Boulevard headquarters of Consolidated Publishing, which publishes The Anniston Star. The city is leasing the space for $275,000 per year.
Toby Bennington, Anniston’s director of planning and economic development, said the federal government’s contractor, B.L. Harbert, had planned to start the demolition on Friday but decided to get an early start. Bennington expects the demolition to be finished prior to the 35 working days allotted.
Bennington said the building was built in 1942 as a USO recreation building.
A large orange Doosan excavator was knocking down walls Wednesday afternoon while another worker sprayed the tumbling debris with a high powered water hose to keep the clouds of dust down.
The old walls and roof crumbled easily and were no match for the large toothed jaws of the excavator as it pulled out twisted steel beams and rammed the structure.
Bennington said the demolition began with the former City Council meeting room, which was reduced to a pile of jagged rubble in about five minutes.