Crews working at the CentrePointe construction site in downtown Lexington started blasting Monday morning to make way for the long-waited project, but the sound was muffled by soil and huge black mats.
Those measures will be used throughout the blasting to reduce sound and keep debris from flying from the block, so only those who are nearby are expected to hear noise coming from the site.
City officials said a blast planned for Tuesday morning is expected to be slightly louder than Monday's, but future blasts won't get any louder.
The first blast erupted just before 10 a.m. Moments before the blast, crews blocked traffic flowing around the CentrePointe block bounded by Main, Vine, Upper and Limestone streets.
Never miss a local story.
Dudley Webb, whose firm, Webb Companies, is developing CentrePointe, said vibrations from the blast were below the company's initial projections. Webb watched it from the nearby Lexington Financial Center.
"We don't think it'll be exceeding what you all seen this morning," he said. "We're excited to keep moving."
Part of a brick wall was blown down. Grayish smoke could be seen coming from the construction site in a corner near Upper and Main streets. To ensure safety, a horn sounded five minutes and one minute before the blast, then again once the blast was over. Traffic was reopened shortly after 10 a.m.
Jonathan Hollinger, senior administrative officer with the Lexington Division of Planning, Preservation and Development, said about 516 people were notified through a text-message alert system before the initial blast. As of noon Monday, 530 people had signed up to receive the alert.
"We'll probably see the number fluctuate a little bit," Hollinger said. "Some people may continue to sign-up and some may unsubscribe."
Hollinger said Monday's blast was done a little early, but the alerts were sent in enough time to citizens. He said future blasts are expected to go off between 9:50 and 10 a.m.
Webb estimated that it could take about 60 days to complete the blasting and remove the resulting rock and debris from the site. The blasting will clear the way for construction of a 700-car underground parking garage at CentrePointe.
There will be another blast at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and then work will stop while the 2014 KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament is in town. Blasting will resume March 24, with one detonation planned each day, six days per week for the next several weeks, according to city officials.
CentrePointe was launched in 2008 with 14 buildings torn down to make room for it. But construction had been at a stand still because of funding woes. Initial site preparation work started in mid-December.