- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Demolition crews have drilled hundreds of holes in the old Riverfront YMCA in Des Moines, which they plan to pack with about 100 pounds of dynamite to bring the building down next month.

The eight-story downtown building implosion is set to happen at daybreak on Oct. 4, the Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1Ldsy3y ).

The 1957 building is expected to crumble onto itself and into the building’s excavated basement. Spectators should be able to watch from the east bank of the Des Moines River.

The downtown building has been empty since January, when the new Wellmark YMCA opened three blocks to the west.

Preservation advocates tried unsuccessfully to have the building listed as a local landmark, saying the building should be saved for its civil rights-era murals, its mid-century architecture and its historical significance as part of the city’s riverfront skyline.

Developers, however, said the building’s boxy design makes it unfeasible to repurpose.

The October implosion is just one of a flurry of demolitions going on in the city and the downtown area as developers clear the way for proposed high-rise apartments, hotels and corporate offices. A warehouse park, two hospital buildings and a row of brick buildings have fallen recently. Two parking ramps and an office building will soon join the old YMCA as no more than piles of dust.

“Buildings like the Y are built to last centuries, and we need to be a little more proactive about thinking of creative ways of keeping them in use,” said Steve Wilke-Shapiro, treasurer of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club.

At least a piece of the YMCA building has been saved: The red neon YMCA sign that has punctuated Des Moines’ skyline for 58 years.

YMCA spokeswoman Amy Smith said the organization has not yet determined what it will do with the sign.

“We felt like it was important to a lot of people, but we’ll have to wait to see where it can go and what we can do with it,” she said.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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