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Demolition gets closer for old public safety building
Work will begin with removal of old tiles, insulation
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Gainesville motorists will see a large fence go up today around the city's old public safety building on Jesse Jewell Parkway as demolition starts.

Tristar of America is preparing the site this week and beginning small demolition on the inside of the building Monday, said Barclay Fouts, project manager in the city's public utilities department.

"They'll start removing some of the old floor tiles with asbestos and some insulation," he said.

The company will bring in heavy equipment to tear down the structure after Christmas, and demolition should be complete by February, Fouts said.

Tristar will complete the project for $113,000, which includes the two-story building and one-story gun range, abatement of floor tile and pipe insulation, and removal of asphalt and concrete from the area.

Once demolition is complete, Rogers Bridge Co. of Covington will begin construction on a pedestrian bridge that will connect downtown Gainesville to Midtown.

With a contract of $2.18 million, the company will build a bridge similar to the design featured on the sign posted at Jesse Jewell Parkway and Main Street, which includes a concrete base, metal handrails and fencing along the sides. Projected to be 450 feet long and 10 feet wide, it will span the four-lane road from the west side of the Georgia Mountains Center to the demolished public safety building area.

Under a six-month contract, the bridge should be complete before August.

Developers of City View, a planned 10-story office building and hotel featured as the keystone of redeveloping Midtown, are paying for the bridge, and the city will later reimburse up to $3 million once a contract goes out for the project.

Once the pedestrian bridge connects the downtown area to Midtown, developers will focus their attention on attracting proposals for the office building and hotel.

City officials charged with development of the Midtown greenway are also moving forward, hoping to complete the walkway in less than two years for walkers, joggers and bikers.

"We're certainly excited to be moving forward and need to tear down that building before we begin the bridge," Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett said Wednesday. "It's an exciting time in our continued goal to revitalize Midtown."

The old public safety building opened in 1975 to the city's police and fire departments, which moved from an older building across the street. Police, fire and Municipal Court officials moved into the new public safety complex on Queen City Parkway by Nov. 18, and city officials cut the blue and red ribbons to officially open the building on Nov. 30.

"Everyone is loving it over there," Padgett said.

"There are always a few kinks to work out in a new building but nothing major. Having a new building certainly makes it easier to get the job done."