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Old Hotel Demolished To Make Way For Raleigh's Tallest Building

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Part of an old dilapidated hotel that now sits on the site of what is expected to be Raleigh's tallest high-rise came tumbling on Sunday morning.

Demolition crews, who have been working since December to deconstruct the old Sheraton Hotel at Glenwood Avenue and Creedmor Road near Crabtree Valley Mall, imploded a 12-story part of the building at 7:30 a.m.

The building is being removed to make way for a 42-story mixed-use development that will be called The Soleil Center. Expected to bring about 150 jobs to the area and an estimated annual tax revenue of about $4 million, the 480-foot building will include condominiums, a luxury four-star hotel and a spa.

The entire implosion took less than 15 seconds. A small group of people watched the implosion from the top of a nearby parking deck.

"It went perfect," said Rusty Griffin, vice president of D.H. Griffin, the demolition company handling the explosion. "It was one of the best implosions I've ever seen."

The building fell forward at about a 15-degree angle after 120 pounds of explosives placed in 120 different spots of the hotel were detonated.

There were no immediate reports of major damage to any nearby buildings, Griffin said, other than a nicked metal frame on a window 75 feet away.

About 92 percent of the debris from the implosion will be recycled. Cleanup is expected to last four to eight weeks.

Streets and roads around the demolition site were closed before and after the implosion, but all were reopened by 8 a.m. Street cleaners began immediately working to remove dust from the implosion.

The Raleigh City Council approved plans for the $100 million Soleil Center last November, but not without opposition from Raleigh leaders and residents who believe the high-rise does not belong outside the downtown area.

Developer Dicky Walia wants to build a smaller second building, Soleil II, that would be 18 stories tall and would consist mostly of office space. It would connect to the Soleil Center and complete the ensemble, he said.

Construction on the Soleil Center is expected to take about 2 years. A proposal for the Soleil II is still awaiting approval from the City Council.

In February, another Raleigh building was demolished in the name of progress. As part of the city's downtown revitalization efforts, the roof of what remained of the Raleigh Convention Center and Conference Center imploded in less than five seconds.

About 50 pounds of explosives were used to bring down the structure, flattening it, according to crews, "like a pancake." In its place will be a new parking garage and four-star Marriott hotel, which are set to open in 2008, at about the same time as the city's new convention center.

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