The old Qwest building at Third Street and Earl Drive will be imploded at 10 a.m. Sunday by Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc. The company's owners are the subject of a new television show called "Dynamite Family" set to air in December on TLC.
The implosion will figure prominently in the first episode of the show that tracks the lives of Lisa Kelly, her husband, Eric, and the rest of their brood.
The family lives, works and travels together. They have more than 27 years' experience safely bringing down multistory buildings, Kelly said.
The last explosive demolition in Phoenix was the Adams Hotel in the 1970s.
"As much as it's an art to build it, it's an art to take down," Kelly said. "It's a cool thing to see."
Cool or not, reactions from neighboring residents and businesses are mixed. All agree that the building is an eyesore. While some celebrate the demolition, others worry about their historic homes.
"Here we have a building being blown up, but we don't get notified until (Thursday) by the bombers," Rogers said Friday. "The city should have been out here two weeks ago to notify us. This is ridiculous. When they have the gay-pride parade on Third Street, they let us know a week in advance."
An implosion, Kelly said, is not the same as an explosion. Neighboring residents should not worry about dust, vibrations, flying debris or noise.
"Movies create a visual in their mind," Kelly said. "The whole idea is to do it the safest, fastest way possible."
Ron LaMee, who works at the Association of Realtors office at 255 E. Osborn Road, a few streets north of the site, said co-workers are going to have a party.
"Some of us geeks who have nothing better to do are going to watch from the roof," LaMee said.
"What the heck, you have to live dangerously."
Kelly said bringing down the 10 stories of steel and concrete involves placing dynamite in holes drilled in the basement, first floor, stairwells and elevator shafts. The controlled implosion will cut the steel beams that support the building, and gravity will do the rest.
In 1972, when the Mountain Bell Plaza building was built, it was one of the first International Style glass-and-steel office high-rises in Phoenix. Designed by popular local architect Al Beadle, the building was a rectangular 10-story block of blackened glass. For 30 years, the building was home to Mountain Bell and Qwest Communications. Qwest moved out in 2003, and San Diego-area developer Joe Pinsonneault bought the building in mid-2004 for $12.5 million.
Since then, the property has racked up multiple civil citations and approximately $6,600 in fines for blight. The most recent violations, according to the city, were in March for trash, debris, broken glass, the structure in general and overgrown vegetation.
City spokesman Michael Hammett said the project came together quickly. AED received city permits Friday.
The city's fire ordinance requires 24-hour notification.
"The city wouldn't issue the permits if all the stipulations of the ordinance were not met," Hammett said. After the implosion, the Kelly’s will head to their next job in Texas or New York. Another contractor will remove the debris.
Pinsonneault, who plans to watch the implosion, said he is still looking for investors to build a 600-unit, high-end, five-star retirement living community on the 9-acre site.
See You At The Demolition!