New Orleans: Demolition of historic buildings near Hard Rock Hotel can proceed

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Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Authorities plan to blow up the two towering construction cranes that have become unstable at the site of the collapsed hotel. They hope to bring down the cranes with series of small controlled blasts just ahead of approaching tropical weather. The mayor has imposed a state of emergency to seize property and force people out if necessary. They hope to avoid more damage to gas and power lines and historic buildings. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans has approved demolition of three buildings near the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel to make space for cranes that are needed to finish tearing down the hotel, city officials said Tuesday.

The structure partially fell in October, killing three workers and sending construction debris into the streets. Two construction cranes that had been leaning precariously over the project were brought down days later with explosives, but the rest of the building has remained standing for months as the city and the developer argued about how best to bring it down.

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On April 30, the hotel developer, 1031 Canal Street Development, received a permit to demolish the 18-story building piece-by-piece using cranes.

To facilitate the hotel demolition, New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell ordered that three nearby buildings be demolished as well. In his order Tuesday, McConnell said that in order to demolish the hotel safely, cranes would have to be positioned in the exact footprint of the nearby buildings.

In the news release, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she did not want victims’ families to go through “any more obstacles to get this building taken down.” The bodies of two of the three people who died in the building have not yet been recovered.

“At the end of the day the most important thing is to retrieve the remains of our people,” Cantrell said.

Developers have said they could recover the bodies from the site within 30 days and the entire structure could be removed within six months once demolition begins.