With growing ire over delays to demolish the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, the project’s developer is pushing back against comments by the city’s fire chief that the developer is intentionally delaying demolition of the building.
Three months after a partial collapse killed three construction workers and injured dozens, the Hard Rock Hotel still sits largely as it did in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 12 collapse. The battered remains of two successfully demolished tower cranes still litter the site, and the bodies of two construction workers, killed in the building collapse, remain unrecovered in the rubble.
In a statement issued on Jan. 6, project developer 1031 Canal Street Development LLC says there is an injunction prohibiting work on the site on New Orleans’ Canal Street. Several lawsuits have been filed against the developer and the project team in the wake of the collapse.
On Jan. 3, New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell provided an update, saying the city was unhappy with the delayed demolition which, he said, was caused by the developer.
Demolition was initially scheduled to begin in February. Now it appears that demolition may not be complete until year-end. McConnell said current plans call for the building to be stabilized before it is demolished. Street traffic is still being detoured around the site.
The demolition contractor Dem/Tech, a sister company of Koh Grading LLC, had initially proposed imploding the structure, but that plan was changed after concerns were raised about debris damaging nearby buildings.
In its statement, the developer says demolition can only occur once the process is approved by those involved and by the court. “The city’s contractor and engineering firm are working hand-in-hand with our contractor and engineer, and together they are determining the path forward. 1031 Canal Street Development LLC has no influence over the engineering design for stabilization or demolition,” the developer said.
1031 Canal Street Development also said the cause of the collapse is still under investigation, and it “relied upon design professionals to construct the building.”
Citadel Builders is the general contractor, Heaslip Engineering is the structural engineer and Harry Baker Smith Architects is the architect on the Hard Rock Hotel project.
The developer also requested permission to demolish three adjacent historic buildings before taking down the hotel. Two of the properties belong to companies owned by Mohan Kailas, who is also the majority owner of 1031 Canal Street Development. The third belongs to Todd Trosclair, CEO of All-Star Electric, a minority partner with the developer.
Demolition of adjacent buildings would require approval from the New Orleans Central Business District Historic Landmarks Commission. The city has not yet approved that plan, McConnell said.
By Pam Radtke Russell, with Jeff Rubenstone