An excavator takes the first bite out of the old city hall building Wednesday morning. The building is being demolished to make way for a new city hall building eventually. GARY S. HATRICK
BY GARY HATRICK Tribune correspondent
Published: May 2, 2013
Updated: May 2, 2013 at 07:05 AM
Demolition of the former City Hall building in Dade City began Wednesday as an excavator took a bite out of one of the first-floor additions, revealing windows that had not seen the light of day in years. On the other side of the building, city administrative technician Bob Shaw took down the flag for the last time. Dade City commissioners and other staff were on hand to watch the beginning of the end for the building that had housed the City Hall of Dade City since the 1940s. Zane Gilmore, project manager from Cross Construction Services Inc. of Lutz, said the excavator will tear down small portions until the front of the building on Meridian Avenue is pulled backward onto the debris. Crews are working on the first-story area in the back of the building first, he said. If they do not believe they can take the three-story portion down completely by the weekend, they will leave it until Monday rather than have the large part of the building partially standing over the weekend.
Demolition and cleanup will take two to three weeks at a cost of $91,600. Traffic could be interrupted during the demolition. Meridian Avenue east from Fifth Street to just east of Fourth Street will remain open, but there may be brief periods when traffic is stopped, according to Dade City police. Fourth Street between Meridian and Pasco avenues will be closed to all traffic during the demolition. Police urge drivers to use caution in the area. The building was originally intended to be six floors when construction began in 1928, according to Doug Sanders, a former city planner and amateur historian. Work stopped at three floors when finances dried up during the Great Depression and the building was abandoned until it was completed as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. Beginning in 1940, the building was used as City Hall. It also housed the local civil defense, the jail, a bank and the meeting place for the local school board. “Just about everything was jammed in that building at one time,” Sanders said. Once the building is torn down, the city will sod the property and await the opportunity to build a new City Hall. Dade City staff is currently spread in offices at the city hall annex building, the police station and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot on the U.S. 98/301 Bypass.