Demolition Starts On Long Vacant Printing Plant To Make Room For Shopping Apartments

Dated: September 21 2015

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The Times Litho building, a long-vacant printing facility that swallows a downtown Forest Grove block, started coming to the ground Monday, Sept. 21.

Mayor Pete Truax took the first swing of the building's demolition Monday morning, biting into it with an excavator borrowed from Staton Companies, the demolition firm the city's hired to bring the empty plant down.

The city owns the building and expects to sell the land it occupies for development into retail, residential and hotel space.

But first, the city wants to clear the lot. The building has to come down eventually to satisfy the city's redevelopment plan, said Finance Director Paul Downey. And if the city's exclusive negotiations with development firm Tokola Properties falls through, a clear lot will be easier to sell to another developer, Downey said.

At least until the end of October, though, the city is splitting pre-development costs with Tokola to determine whether a project similar to one the firm built in downtown Hillsboro is viable.

Watch Mayor Truax bite into the Times Litho building with an excavatorForest Grove Mayor Pete Truax gets the first crack at the Times Litho building to start the demolition process.

For now, the city's hired Staton Companies to demolish the plant for about $288,000 after receiving six bids for the project, of which Staton's was the least expensive.

Staton has been involved with a number of other demolition projects around the Northwest, including some 300 bridges and numerous buildings, according the company's website. But at least two of those projects have seen considerable trouble.

The firm was a subcontractor on a bridge demolition that killed a family of threelast April in Bonny Lake, Washington. Josh and Vanessa Ellis, along with their 8-month-old son, Hudson, were driving underneath the bridge when a section of concrete barrier fell and crushed their pickup.

Plans for the Bonney Lake project show that Staton was supposed to cut and remove the bridge's outside barrier. Bonny Lake City Clerk Woody Edvalson said the case is in litigation and that he could not comment on Staton's direct involvement with the falling barrier.

In a separate incident, Staton failed to conduct a required engineering survey before beginning demolition on the Sauvie Island Bridge in 2008, according to Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Administration records.

Because the site was not properly analyzed, the records say, one of the bridge's north spans collapsed unexpectedly during demolition. Oregon OSHA cited Staton $275 for the incident, which it labeled a serious violation. 

Jeanne Staton, president of the company, said her 43-year-old company has an otherwise good record. Still, she said the Bonny Lake incident is "one too many, that's for sure."

The Times Litho's heyday Read an account of the Times Litho printing plant's glory days from the perspective of its former CEO.

Downey said he knew about Staton's record before the city elected to contract with the company. The city is always concerned about safety, he said, but this is, admittedly, a much different project than a bridge demolition.

"We talked to them about it a little bit," he said. "The steps they're taking seem to be adequate." 

The demolition site is enclosed with fences to keep pedestrians at a safe distance, and Downey said the city would grant more clearance if needed.

The demolition should take about six weeks, Downey said, after which the site will look like nothing more than a gravel parking lot.


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Mark Ross

For Mark Ross, founder of Ross NW Real Estate and professional real estate broker, real estate has always been the career of choice. During his 30 years in the industry, Mark has gained experience in ....

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