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Flint's tallest building will soon be a pile of rubble

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
The 19 story Genesee Towers building is wired with explosives. Crews have erected netting on other downtown Flint buildings to protect them from Sunday's collapse.

Flint’s tallest building is going to be demolished this weekend.

Experts have spent weeks preparing the 45 year old building for Sunday morning’s implosion.

The 19 story Genesee Towers has been an empty eyesore in downtown Flint for years. The city acquired the building in 2010 and sold it to the Uptown Reinvestment Corp., the city’s downtown development agency, in 2012.

Implosion expert Steve Pettigrew, with Florida-based Demolition Dynamics, says on Sunday about a thousand pounds of explosives will detonate in seven seconds, creating lateral movement inside the building.

“You create a failure point and let it drop. We’re going to actually ease the building over on the north and west sides into the middle,” says Pettigrew, “And that’s how you do it. It sounds easy.”

Pettigrew has been in the demolition business for nearly 40 years.   He’s imploded everything from office blocks to sports stadiums.   Pettigrew says imploding the Genesee Towers is a “six or seven” on the difficulty scale.

“I’m of the mindset that every job is important, even if you're shooting a stack in a cornfield, you got to do it right,” says Pettigrew. 

Sunday’s weather forecast calls for a wintry mix of rain and snow, which has two potential benefits for the implosion crew. First, the rain and snow may reduce the dust cloud when the building crashes to the ground. Second, the marginal weather may cut down on the gawkers venturing out to see the implosion.

The building may come down in a matter of seconds, but the cleanup is expected to take months.

The space that’s left will eventually be turned into a downtown park.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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