- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A demolition team successfully brought down the old Washington Convention Center yesterday morning but not without a few surprises.

Alan Etter, D.C. fire department spokesman, said one wall fell out instead of in. Rubble tumbled into a closed section of 11th Street and hit a restaurant, but firefighters determined there was no structural damage.

Mr. Etter says several windows also were shattered, and a 73-year-old man at the Mount Vernon Square subway station fainted. The man thought the implosion was an earthquake, Mr. Etter said.

The series of explosions began just after 7:30 a.m., and the 22-year-old structure came down in about 20 seconds.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the site will become the home of mixed-use development over the next five years.

Parts of about a dozen streets in the area were closed for 15 minutes to several hours as a safety perimeter. About 300 rooms in the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel facing the building were kept vacant and, as a precaution, the lobby was cleared during the implosion.

The building was the fourth-largest convention center in the country when it opened in 1982. But several cities opened larger centers in the next few years, and it became obsolete.

The city last year opened a new convention center — three times as large as the old building.

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