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Two blocks of Main Street downtown will be restricted to one lane of travel for six days beginning Thursday, July 5, in order to allow construction crews to proceed with the demolition of the former Downtowner Motor Inn.
From July 5-10, detour signs will route southbound traffic from Main Street onto Market Street and then to Spring Street. Once on Spring Street, the detour will direct motorists to Ridge Street, but Floyd Street will remain open.
North Union Street from Main Street to Spring Street will be closed.
The northbound lane for motorists traveling along Main Street toward Memorial Drive and Craghead Street will remain open.
For the demolition, excavating equipment is scheduled to arrive on site by Monday. The excavator will have a 95-foot arm with a muncher attached at the end. The muncher will crush the building’s concrete. The crushed concrete will be hauled away.
D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, N.C., is the demolition contractor.
In recent weeks, crews have been backfilling a huge hole that was created with the demolition of the parking deck. The backfilling was necessary to allow the excavator to get closer to the main part of the building.
Once the excavator is operable, crews will begin the task of pulling the building down to a safe and manageable level. Normal traffic patterns will be restored when a safe level is reached.The company will remain on site until demolition and cleanup are complete. The property will be cleared of rubble, back-filled and seeded. No decision has been made on the future use.
Because of its high visibility and the more than two decades that it has stood empty, the building has become a focal point for blight eradication and redevelopment in the River District. The Danville Industrial Development Authority purchased the property last year through a grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.
The removal of this structure is part of what IDA and foundation officials believe will be a major transformation of the district. In addition to demolition of the Downtowner, sidewalk and streetscape improvements are scheduled to begin in August on portions of Main and Union streets in what will be the first phase of the River District redevelopment
The Downtowner was constructed in 1963 at the corner of Main and Union streets, which at the time was Danville’s busiest intersection. The seven-story hotel featured 116 rental rooms, including a rooftop penthouse, and 15 meeting rooms. Two eight-passenger elevators served the building. The Main Street entrance led to a restaurant, a nightclub and commercial tenant spaces. An underground area was set aside for valet parking.
Built at a cost of $1 million, the Downtowner was part of a plan to make Danville a convention center, and with its location, it was expected to spark a revitalization of downtown. The building closed in 1986.