Demolition began Monday for another vacant building on the isthmus in downtown Olympia.
Crews from WM Dickson Company are tearing down the former Thurston County Health Department building at 529 Fourth Ave. W. The project is slated for completion in mid-November.
Sidewalks along Fourth and Fifth avenues will remain open to pedestrians, although a portion of the site, including Yashiro Street, will be fenced off and closed to traffic, according to the city.
Dickson Company got the contract after submitting a low bid of $174,482. Brett Bures, project manager with the city, said crews still need to remove hazardous materials including asbestos from the roof and hydraulic fluid from an elevator system before the actual physical demolition can take place.
This project marks the second of two city-owned buildings to come down this year on the isthmus, which is the strip of land between West Bay and Capitol Lake. The former Thurston County Housing Authority building next door at 505 Fourth Ave. W. was torn down last April, also by Tacoma-based Dickson Co., at a cost of $51,680.
In 2013, the city purchased the two vacant properties on 2.3 acres for about $3.3 million.
The most notable isthmus building is the nine-story Capitol Center Building, which has been vacant since 2006.
Local developer Ken Brogan is exploring a plan to convert the structure into a destination with offices, apartments, condominiums and a restaurant. Last month, Brogan told The Olympian that he intends to close on his purchase of the tower as well as a nearby one-story building and parking lot in early 2016.
However, there is strong sentiment in the community to demolish the Capitol Center Building — often called “the mistake by the lake” by critics — and make room for a park on the isthmus. For several years, groups such as the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation have been calling on the city to buy the building and tear it down.
To that end, supporters of a proposed Metropolitan Park District say the extra tax revenue from the district, if approved by voters Nov. 3, could provide some of the money needed to acquire the Capitol Center Building.
Olympia also is moving forward this year with a Community Renewal Area, an economic development tool that would expand the city’s eminent domain powers over downtown properties in poor condition. The city is currently seeking partnerships with private developers. The isthmus properties are located within the Community Renewal Area and are considered prime candidates for redevelopment.