ALEXANDRIA – The façade of the former Happy Times Bar came down in a cloud of dust Wednesday afternoon as Alexandria’s mayor, Jack Woods, and a small crowd of others watched. The Harrison Street building, which Woods said he thought dated to about 1898, was demolished by the Muncie-based Shroyer Brothers.
“It was a very bad safety issue,” said Woods. “We just couldn’t let it fall out in the street and hurt somebody.”
Police, fire and emergency services were on hand for the project that got underway at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Woods, sporting a safety vest, and others helped to pull all the metal out of the destroyed building to be recycled.
The inward collapse of the front wall was the culmination of the day’s demolition project on downtown Alexandria’s main thoroughfare. The excavator surgically dismantled the building so that the deconstruction was almost entirely contained within the lot.
When the front wall finally came down at about 4 p.m., dust blew out into the street with a small pile of bricks and debris. The area had been cordoned off to protect onlookers.
“When people stop caring about their building this is what happens,” said Woods. “Nostalgically, I hate to see it come down.”
Woods said the adjacent building will also be coming down in a few weeks. After the sites are cleared, a gazebo will be built where summer concerts will be staged. Woods said the adjacent walls can be used for showing movies.
“We just want to make it nice,” said Woods.
The county-owned building had been seized from its former owner, John Neal, as part of a 2009 settlement in which Neal pleaded guilty to promoting gambling. The site comes to the city along with $18,000 from the county toward demolition costs.
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