11:40 a.m., Nov. 16, 2010----With the flip of a switch, the wrecking claw tore down the cinder block pony wall of the former Mopar parts building along South College Avenue. The crowd of elected officials, contractors and University of Delaware staff cheered as the wall toppled over and demolition officially began at the former Chrysler Assembly Plant on Friday, Nov. 5.
“We have great plans for the future of this site as we turn it into a science and technology campus,” said UD President Patrick Harker. “With its proximity to our main campus, this site will bolster partnerships, innovation and research which will benefit the entire University community.”
After delivering the first blow to the building, Gov. Jack Markell echoed Harker's sentiments and highlighted the promise of redeveloping the site.
“Just as Chrysler served as a primary source of employment for generations of the past, this new site for science and technology will serve generations of the future,” said Markell.
“This project is perfectly timed to deliver jobs of the future. In the meantime, it will generate some much-needed jobs in the construction industry.”
Leading the construction efforts on the 272-acre site is San Francisco-based URS Corporation, which employs more than 100 people in its two Delaware offices. Thus far, there have been approximately 75 workers on site every day, and URS says it expects about 76 percent of the work to go to local subcontractors and vendors.
URS and UD have set a recycling goal of 95 percent for the project with plans to resell any scrap metal and to crush and reuse concrete.
The entire process, including the full decommissioning, asbestos abatement, demolition and recycling of the equipment and buildings on site, is expected take 12 to 18 months, with an anticipated completion date of December 2011.
Overseeing the entire site and redevelopment initiative is 1743 Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Delaware. “There's a long road ahead of us, but decommissioning and demolition are the first steps,” said Vic Costa, executive director of 1743 Holdings, LLC.
Costa explained that during the demolition there will not be any implosions -- and it actually is a pretty straightforward process as URS and its subcontractors will take each building down to the slab -- piece by piece.
For the demolition timeline, Costa explained the Mopar building would be torn down first, followed by the wastewater treatment area southeast corner of the site. In January, the main assembly plant will be taken apart, and the last building to be demolished, which is in the newest area of the former assembly plant site, will be the paint shop. The only structures that will remain are the administration building, a small storage building, a building known in the former plant as “OSC” and the iconic water tower.
For information on the science and technology campus, visit the website.
Article by Meredith Chapman
Photos by Evan Krape