I saw the project site twice, but did not attend the implosion in South Padre Island on Sunday of the planned 31-story Ocean Towers condo project.
The event was a success for the demo contractor Controlled Demolition Inc. And it became a destination event for locals. The Valley Morning Star in nearby Harlingen estimated some 2,000 spectators gathered to witness the blast and watch the tower turn to dust, then rubble. (Scroll down to end of this blog to view it yourself.) One young person was overheard by a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News exclaiming, "Oh yeah, that's awesome," as the 378-ft building fell, setting a world record for the tallest reinforced-concreted building ever imploded.
Development on South Padre Island has been sluggish for decades, and the failure of the condo building is a sad setback for the Texas beach community. The project broke ground in spring of 2006 and was originally scheduled to be completed in fall '08, adding some 150 high-rise residences. The project stalled at its topping out point, half clad, in summer of 2008. Since then it has been dubbed "the Leaning Tower of South Padre."
Now, a four-story pile of debris has even some skeptics of "radical environmentalism" asking what effect the cloud of dust might have on the sensitive ocean-front ecosystem and nearby Padre Island National Seashore.
And the saga of the ill-fated tower is far from over. An ongoing lawsuit filed by Ocean Towers LP is seeking more than $1 million in damages against two of the project engineers. The contractor, Zachry, has been dismissed as a defendant in the suit.
Below are two strikingly different videos, the first, a good "before" that captures the size and scope of the island and the project, and next the 12-second demolition: