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Barring a natural disaster, Scott Tower will be brought down at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
Work crews have spent the past week making sure all is ready for the implosion that will set off 400 pounds of explosives and collapse the former public housing project into rubble.
“We’re clear to go,” said demolition contractor Steve Pettigrew.
All hazardous materials have already been removed from the site, Pettigrew said. Barriers have been erected to protect against flying rock and concrete, and a blast curtain will be suspended in front of homes closest to Scott Tower.
Those who want to watch the implosion will have the best view on Dunbar Street next to the Juanita Butler Community Center, said project manager Gary Penland of NEO Corp., a deconstruction contractor.
Onlookers will hear three horn blasts sound off at 9:25 a.m., followed by two blasts one minute before detonation.
There will a 10-second countdown. Then, Scott Tower will pancake on itself.
The dust cloud that erupts could extend out 400 feet depending on the wind, but people shouldn’t worry that they’ll breathe in contaminants, Pettigrew said.
“I’ve been doing this for 38 years now and never had a problem,” he said. “You might get dirty, but there’s no real health hazard.”
Pettigrew expects the implosion to go off without incident. On a scale of one to 10 for difficulty, he said Scott Tower is a three since the area is relatively open, and there are no structures directly next to the drop zone.
“We’re not on a street corner downtown where you have utilities and the sidewalk and the street and a lot of glass,” he said.
Pettigrew has imploded thousands of structures over his long career. Among the most memorable was the 30-story Landmark Tower in Fort Worth, Texas, and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, which took 61 seconds to collapse — an eternity by implosion standards.
The last time Greenville saw an implosion was in 1997, when Memorial Auditorium was razed. Pettigrew was behind that job, too, according to a story in The Greenville News that ran Sept. 14.
“There’s only a few of us in the country and a handful in the world that works in urban areas,” Pettigrew said.
Beginning at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, roads within 600 feet of Scott Tower will be closed until 11:30 a.m.
Work crews will use the time to clean up homes and buildings within the perimeter, though nearly all of the debris should be contained within the site’s footprint, Pettigrew said.
Scott Tower, formerly the city’s largest public housing project, closed in March after a study found that extensive repairs were needed to rehabilitate the building, according to Cindi Herrera, interim executive director for the Greenville Housing Authority.
St. Louis development firm McCormack Baron Salazar plans to build 250 units of mixed-income housing in its place.