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Avalon’s demolition was shocking

From the Editor's Notebook

May 12, 2013
by Chuck Hunt - Register Editor (chunt@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

Talk about shocking.

It is difficult to believe that a building the size of the Avalon Center can be standing tall at the lunch hour, then be a pile of rubble by supper time.

In fact, it took just four hours to demolish the big brick and block structure.

The excavator took its first "bite" right around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

At 6 p.m., the last bit of the front wall was knocked down.

I have to admit, the staff at the Faribault County Register was a might nervous about this project. After all, we are right next door.

In fact, my desk sits just eight feet away from the 20-foot-tall brick wall on the north side of the Avalon Center. I mean, when there was a wall there. It's gone now, of course.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was a different story. I?was a might too close to the action.

But, expert excavator operator Stuart Carleton did a great job of knocking those outside walls inward to the middle, not outward toward my office.

I do have to admit that when those I-beams came down, however, our whole building shook. That was a bit shocking, too.

Several people who watched the building come down had a more vested interest in it than the rest of us.

Attorney Mike Johnson once owned the Avalon Center and operated it both as a movie theater and then as an office building.

Register publisher Lori Nauman and graphic artist Pam True worked in the building for several years when it was home to Shopper Enterprises.

They agreed it was a shame the building had to be torn down, but also agreed it was necessary due to the condition of the structure.

Right before the first wall was smashed down, I took a quick noon hour tour of the place for one last set of photos of the inside. It was in sad shape.

And, while the April Fools story reported falsely that there were old movie reels inside, there actually were some items left from the theater days. A few moldy, rotten theater seats and some paper soda pop cups were about all that was left.

The interior, overall, was pretty shocking.

It is also shocking to see the change in the landscape of our downtown "neighborhood." Removing the Avalon building has totally changed the look of the area, both from Main Street and from the back side.

That begs the next question: What is going to happen to the lot once the cleanup of the debris is accomplished?

I'm sure everyone would be pleased to see a new building in its place. Perhaps a retail store, or another movie theater. Even a downtown apartment building.

Honestly though, I will be shocked if that ever happens.

Hopefully, the city is not going to be content to just let it sit there as a weed infested vacant lot.

They own it now, you know.

My idea for the area would be to have a "green" space (vegetation, that is) for the front 20 feet or so, along the sidewalk.

Behind that area could be a parking lot, giving the Main Street some "off-street parking" spaces. These will become necessary when Main Street is repaved.

After that project, there will be fewer street parking spaces downtown. A parking lot or two will be necessary.

Of course, given the choice between a new building or a parking lot, I would opt for the building.

But, given a choice between a weedy vacant lot and a parking lot, I'd pick the lot.

Not everybody would.

Remember that old song from the 1960s?

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot.

With a pink hotel, a boutique

And a swinging hot spot.

Don't it always seem to go,

That you don't know what you've got

Til it's gone.

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot.

"The Big Yellow Taxi"by Joni Mitchell

I'm pretty sure that I won't have much say in what does happen to this now empty lot next door to my desk.

In fact, I would be shocked if I did.

 
 

 

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