Insulation flies as Festival Hall razing begins

April 20, 1994|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,Sun Staff Writer

Wrecking crews began demolishing Festival Hall yesterday, peeling off the tin roof like aluminum foil off a TV dinner while two Potts and Callahan backhoes clawed at the box-shaped structure.

Festival Hall is adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center, and for about a decade it was a home for ethnic festivals and small trade shows. It is being razed to make way for an expanded convention center. The demolition work is expected to last three weeks.

Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said the convention center will cover three city blocks and hold 9,000 people.

As the demolition work was under way yesterday, Pat Chelf, an audio technician for the convention center, said: "It's a shame to see something go that hasn't been here that long, but the new convention center will bring in more money for downtown."

As the insulation flew, Mr. Hoffman said earlier plans to dismantle Festival Hall and reassemble it elsewhere were scrapped because of the high cost -- $5 million.

Instead, a decision was made to demolish the building for $150,000 and recycle the materials for other construction jobs. The convention center expansion is expected to cost $151 million.

The construction is scheduled to be complete by fall 1996, said Mr. Hoffman. The original 15-year-old convention center will then be refurbished at a cost of $10 million and finished by 1997.

The completed convention center will be almost twice as big -- from 440,000 square feet to 800,000 square feet.

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